She taught you to tie your shoes. He taught you to drive. She helped you get your first job. He showed you how to file your taxes. While your parents are the responsible ones in your younger years, guiding you to become a successful adult, there often comes a time when the roles reverse.
There is a point in adulthood where you realize that your parents are getting to the end of their lives, and sooner or later you will either be responsible for them or the estate they leave behind. At this point, you realize that the negative consequences of not having things in order will fall on you, not them.
So, even if your parents are still mentally and physically capable, it is time for you to step in and make sure they are prepared for the latter years of their lives. Here are some legal and financial considerations where advanced planning can make a world of difference.
Have An Updated Will
There is always some story in the news about a celebrity who has died without a will and the raucous legal battle that ensues as their relatives and business partners vie for a piece of their estate. Almost 40 years after his death, the family of Jimi Hendrix was still going to court to fight it out.
While you may consider your family above such squabbles, it’s better not to even test it. You never know how large amounts of money will affect people and their behavior. It is important for your parents to have a will that clearly spells out their final wishes, including who will carry out those wishes as the executor of their estate.
This is especially important in situations with blended families. It’s all too common for a will to never be updated and leave an ex-wife as the sole inheritor or executor of an estate. Not only do your parents need a will, but they also need to make sure it is updated to reflect their current situation and desired legacy.
Develop A Long-Term Care Plan
If your mom is over 65, there’s a 58% chance that she will need long-term care at some point, and on average that would be about 2 ½ years of care. For your dad, there’s a 47% chance that he will need long-term care. (1) Those numbers are high and need to be taken seriously.
Your whole family needs to come together to develop a plan for caring for your parents in old age. Discuss topics such as: Who will provide care for them? Who will pay for the care? Does it make sense for them to purchase long-term care insurance?
All too often, the most responsible or only local son or daughter ends up shouldering the entire burden. This leads to burnout and resentment toward the other siblings. Save your family the trouble and be proactive to come up with a plan that everyone can agree to.
Plan For Incapacitation
One out of three Americans over age 85 have Alzheimer’s disease. There’s a good chance that a time will come when at least one of your parents is no longer able to make decisions for himself or herself. Who is going to make decisions for them at that point, both financial and medical?
This is something you need to discuss with your parents and get the proper legal documents in place before they become incapacitated. Having simple power of attorneys written up will save you the trouble of going to court to request the right to help your parents when they need it most.
Cherish The Moments
While it is important to have all of the proper legal documents in place and have a plan for how to take care of your parents when they can no longer take care of themselves, for most people, their biggest regret at the end is simply that they didn’t have more time with their parents.
We all know that our time here on earth is limited, so we need to make the most of it. As you watch your parents age, it is a visual reminder that your time with them is coming to an end. Consider creating a routine to make sure you spend time with them on a regular basis while you still can.
Can you make a standing date for breakfast on Fridays or a phone call on Sunday afternoons? Carving time out of your busy schedule for your parents is one of the very best ways to prepare for these final years of their lives.
How I Can Help
It can be overwhelming to think of writing a will, planning care, and making all these decisions. Also, parents aren’t always receptive to these discussions with people that used to spit up on them and need them to change their diapers.
In these situations, it can be very helpful to work with an experienced financial professional, someone who knows the ins and outs of latter-year planning and can be a neutral third party in emotional family discussions. If you would like help planning for your parents, call us at 1on1financial today at 909-981-1720 or simply click here to schedule a free 15-minute introductory phone call.
Philip A. Board MSFS, CFS, is a retirement planning specialist and the founder of 1on1financial, an independent comprehensive investment firm serving individuals and businesses throughout the United States. He is also the owner and CEO of Medi-cal Benefits.