How to Help an Aging Parent With Estate Planning

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Estate Planning Podcast. I’m your host Colby Kukelski. The Estate Planning Podcast is brought to you by our friends at Rhodes law firm. In recent episodes of the podcast, we’ve been discussing various estate planning tools and some of the most common questions that come with estate planning. But in this week’s episode, we’re going to focus on how you can help an aging parent. I have many people who come to us who have parents that have been recently diagnosed with some sort of illness, whether it be dementia or Alzheimer’s, and they’re asking how do we help mom and dad? How do we plan for the next steps of their life?

The very first thing you want to consider when we’re talking about an aging parent is their use of powers of attorneys. Now in previous episodes, we talked about the importance of having both a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. What these documents enable is for someone to act on behalf of an individual. So when thinking about your parents, you want to make sure that your parents have a power of attorney that authorizes you or sibling or trusted family friend to be able to make those financial decisions and medical decisions on their behalf, should they be unable to. These are very important documents to have and really everyone over the age of 18 should have one. But when we’re talking about an aging parent, it’s important for them to have one. So that way if you know we need to make sure their bills are getting paid or their taxes are getting filed, that financial power of attorney is in place or they’re unable to make a health care decision for themselves, someone’s named to be able to make that decision on their behalf. Without these powers of attorneys, what we’re left with is having to get guardianship or conservatorship through the court. And speaking on guardianship and conservatorship, there are some well-known cases happening in the public eye that deal with a particular type of conservatorship. But for our conversation, today, I’m going to focus on guardianship and conservatorship, based on Georgia and South Carolina law. Guardianship is the legal process of obtaining the ability to make decisions on behalf of someone. So in order to make medical decisions for them or their health care decisions for them. Conservatorship is the legal ability to make financial decisions on behalf of someone’s property. So the ability to access their bank account and pay their bills. They are two different types of things. So in order to obtain guardianship or conservatorship, someone will have to petition the probate court and request the court’s permission to be able to make those decisions. For most people. A quick and easy way to avoid this is to have those powers of attorneys in place. So when dealing with an aging parent, the first question really should be, are these powers of attorneys in place? Are they up to date? And are mom and dad still comfortable with the individuals who they’ve named?

The next question you should consider when dealing with an aging parent is then looking at their estate planning documents. Now in previous episodes, we’ve discussed the importance of having some type of a estate plan. When we’re talking about estate plans, we’re talking about either having a last will and testament or some type of trust in place. This is the time to make sure mom and dad have these documents in place. And these documents are still adequate, adequately reflecting their decisions. I would always recommend while mom and dad are still with us and are able to that you visit an estate planning attorney to revisit these documents. In doing this mom and dad will be able to review what they currently have in place. They’ll be able to consider if there have been any changes in the law, any changes in the family, and then if they’re comfortable with it, you can be involved as well so you understand your role in the process, if you have one


And finally, the last crucial step that you should think about when helping an aging parent is, if there’s a need for long term care, there are a couple of different types of long term care options. There’s the at home care where someone comes to your house, there’s the assisted living where mom and dad live in a facility, but they’re still able to live on their own. And then there’s the nursing home care or full skilled nursing with each different type of care.

The next consideration has to be the cost of that care. Now, a lot of people have heard that you will spend everything you’ve ever saved if you need any form of long term care. And this isn’t necessarily a false statement. These different levels of care are fairly pricey depending on where you live. But there are ways to strategically plan for these types of care. So having the conversation ahead of time can help you and mom and dad prepare for if they need these types of care how we’re going to pay for it, and if they need these types of care where they would prefer being. So when dealing with an aging parent, while it’s an uncomfortable conversation to have, it is a necessary conversation to have, one in three adults will end up needing some form of long term care in the future. So planning ahead of time will help alleviate at least that burden on the family.

So when dealing with an aging parent, the first couple of things that you should consider is ensuring that they have the appropriate financial and health care powers of attorneys in place, making sure their estate planning documents are up to date and are still reflecting their wishes, and then having the conversation ahead of time about long term care.

Now, this isn’t a conclusive list, but it is the first three things that you should be having the conversation with mom and dad about. No one likes to have a conversation. It’s an uncomfortable conversation, but having it ahead of time, will at least help your family prepare for if and when that time comes. There’s a plan in place. It’s a plan that you know, everyone’s agreed to ahead of time, and it’s plan that we’re all comfortable implementing.

Thank you for joining us here this week for another episode of the Estate Planning Podcast. If you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode, make sure that you subscribe share with a friend. And make sure to come back next week where we’ll have another episode discussing different types of estate planning topics. If there’s a particular topic you have in mind, feel free to send that into the show and we may cover in future episodes. I’m your host Colby Kukelski. See you back here next week.

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