9 Things to Discuss With Your Parent(s) Now
Posted: August 9, 2021
Helping parents address legal issues confronting them as they age is not easy. It begins with an open and honest dialogue about how they feel on certain issues, what they have done to insure they have their legal, financial, and medical issues taken care of and what they might do to finalize any unfinished business.
Listed below are some topics to discuss with your parent or parents to get them to begin to focus on what they need to do to ensure their wishes will be carried out as they age. Review the list with them. Add additional questions to the list? Review the answers to the questions with siblings and others who have an interest in the well-being of your parents (assuming your parents are in concurrence in doing so). Become proactive in helping your parents finish any unfinished business.
Warning: Reviewing these types of issues with your parents can be uncomfortable and at times creating stress for both them and you. Once you have reviewed the issues with your parents, however, you will find the stress will subside once you have developed a plan to help them cope with their own aging issues.
- Advance directives (health care directives, including living will and medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney and burial instructions).
- Do you have a medical directive you have completed? If so, where might a copy be located in case someone needs it to make a decision on your behalf?
- Who would you want to make health care decisions for you if you could not make them for yourself? Are there any decisions you would not want your agent to make for you?
- Is it important for you to spend your last days at home?
- Do you have specific wishes regarding your last remains or memorial services?
- Status of estate planning documents and reviewing the provisions of the documents and the named fiduciaries, such as personal representatives, agents under power of attorneys and trustees.
- Do you have a will or a trust which indicates how you want your estate to be distributed?
- Where do you keep your original estate planning documents?
- Have you reviewed them lately to make sure they reflect your wishes? Do you have changes you would like to make?
- Are the persons you have named to act on your behalf still the persons you wish to have help you?
- Taking stock of their assets. Where are the assets held, what are their values and how are they titled? Using joint tenancy wisely, the inadvertent disposition plan, and coordination of the retirement and insurance benefits with the estate plan.
- Where do you keep all of your financial records such as bank statements, investment accounts and insurance statements?
- Are the ownership designations of your accounts and real property holdings titled how you want them to be titled?
- Have you reviewed the beneficiary designations on your non-probate assets (such as life insurance, retirement accounts and annuities) to ensure they are pursuant to your wishes?
- Health, disability, and long-term care insurance plans (the coordination of Medicare and Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans and the drug benefit conundrum).
- What type of coverage do you have? Where do you keep the information?
- Do you have a Medicare supplement insurance plan?
- Paying for possible medical custodial care at home, in assisted living communities and nursing homes through long-term care insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and long-term care insurance—having a plan!
- Have you thought about the cost of care for in-home care, assisted or skilled care?
- Is there a plan in place as to how the cost will be covered?
- If the assets are insufficient to cover the anticipated cost, is there a plan in place as to who will assist with the payment of the anticipated cost?
- The little stuff – avoid a fight amongst the kids over the personal property and family heirlooms through the personal property memorandum.
- Have you created a personal property memorandum?
- Where do you keep the documents?
- Is the description sufficient to avoid any confusion on what you mean?
- Who will be the caregiver?
- How is the caregiver compensated?
- Have you given any thought to a caregiver agreement wherein you can provide for your care with a caregiver at an agreed upon price?
- Reducing the agreement to writing to avoid conflict amongst the children.
- Mental Capacity. What we can do with it and what we can’t do without it and know when we have it and when we don’t.
- Have you visited with your doctor lately about your general health and mental state?
- Are you taking any medications to assist you with memory loss or any other mental condition?
- Avoiding financial exploitations from within and without the family.
- Do you have your children (or any other person) on any of your financial accounts?
- Do you have someone who pays bills for you? Is there any type of plan in place to review the financial dealings of anyone who is helping you?
- Are you making any donations to organizations beyond the normal amount and frequency?