Have you had an opportunity to reflect on the time you were able to spend with your family, especially your aging parents, as the holidays have ended and the New Year is here? The holidays, for many of us, focus on our family including talking and spending time with those we love. During this special holiday time, did you discuss the future with your aging parents? While you were together, did you notice any particular issues or impairments that were not there last year? Did your parents discuss any new diagnoses or changes to medications with you? Did you talk to your parents about their thoughts on long-term care or their need for long-term care planning?

For most of us, the answer to the questions in the previous paragraph is no. We may have been very aware of specific issues our aging parents may have been experiencing but during the holidays, we did not feel comfortable addressing them. Instead, the holidays were a time for being together, celebrating, and observation. However, now that the New Year is here, we need to reflect on the fact that there may be important long-term care questions that need to be answered. We want to share four questions that we frequently encounter with our clients and their loved ones right here on our blog.

1. First of all, do you know if they have thought about, started, or finished any long-term care planning? If you do not know, ask now. We know that this is a broad question but it will elicit information about whether your aging parents have taken any steps to plan their long-term care. In fact, they may have completed a plan already. On the other hand, they may have done zero planning or not even thought about any long-term care planning. In the alternative, maybe they started long-term care planning years ago and the plan may need to be updated.

2. Have they made any decisions about who they want to make medical or financial decisions for them? We know the conversations about decisions such as these are not the best holiday dinner conversation, but you need to know their wishes. If your aging parents were to suddenly become physically or mentally incapacitated, is there a family member or close friend who understands their wishes and that they trust? A trusted person would make decisions regarding medical care in line with their wishes. A trusted person, and it could be someone entirely different, could assume financial responsibilities, including paying their bills or hiring a caregiver? The most important conversation, now, is have they completed their estate plan to give legal authority to these persons to act?

3. As of right now, do you know whether your aging parents would prefer to stay in their home or are they interested in assisted living? Some people want to remain in their home at all costs, while others may become afraid and prefer to live in an environment where assistance is available. If your aging parents want to remain in their home, it may be necessary to make safety modifications or arrange for a caregiver. If they prefer assisted living, facilities should be visited and a plan for covering the cost discussed.

4. The really important question is, if a nursing home becomes necessary how will they pay for it? This question is often one of the most difficult for families to discuss, but statistics alone indicate that more than half of senior Americans will eventually require nursing home care and the cost can be devastating. You can assist your parents in understanding that they may need to purchase long-term care insurance. In addition, they may be advised to create a trust for asset protection, which may allow them to qualify for Medicaid, which could then possibly prevent them from losing their life savings to the cost of nursing home care.

Having conversations surrounding these questions will provide a great starting point to assist your loved ones in creating a solid estate and long-term care plan to meet their future needs as the New Year begins.

Our office can assist with the planning necessary to achieve their goals. While it may feel like an uncomfortable topic to broach, in the long run, helping loved ones plan for the future is critical. At the Perlin Estate Planning & Probate our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services. By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.