How do I make sure my parents are cared for when they need it most?

Are you concerned that your parents may not have long-term care when they need it? Regardless of whether or not they have a long-term care policy, would you like to ensure that they get the best quality care without squandering their bank accounts or house in the process?

If the answer to either of the questions is yes, then you are not alone. I see clients every day that are very concerned about their parents' health and don't want to see them taken advantage of financially when they are unable to take care of themselves. The problem is that long-term care can be very expensive, and even if you have a policy there is no guarantee that the money won't be gorged by rising costs. Furthermore, many of us have parents who are stubborn and do not want their children telling them what they should do...even if it is in their best interests!

There is some good news though. You can take steps to help your parents avoid losing their hard earned savings or house while giving them the dignity of making decisions for themselves. How?

Solution (Part 1) - Talk to your parents about an Advance Health Care Directive (or "Health Care Instructions"). The short definition for this is that it is a document that contains a set of instructions (your parent's instructions) for how a person wants to be taken care of when they can no longer take care of themselves.

This tool is very valuable, because without it, a court will make those decisions for them based on the recommendations of someone who is likely a total stranger. With this document, your parent has the ability to be specific if they want to regarding their care, and a qualified estate planning attorney can draft up a document for them that actually meets their needs AND wants.

Solution (Part 2) - Ask your parents who is named in each of their Durable Powers of Attorney? This is the document that takes care of your parent's finances when they are unable to take care of themselves. Do not confuse this with the Health Care Instructions that will take care of the person, but not their finances. These are two separate documents of equal importance.

Again, this tool is very valuable because it avoids decisions regarding your parent's money and property being made by the court. Your parent can specify in this document how they want the money spent for themselves and their loved ones during their time of incapacity. Not only can they ensure bills are paid, but they can help their grandkids with their education, or help their family with medical expenses, their church or charity, etc.

Take the time to talk with your parents about these tools in a way that allows them to make the decisions for themselves. You will thank yourself later for it. If you want to learn more about these tools or other estate planning tools there is a lot of general information on our website.

Also, here is a decent article out of USA Today that talks about managing costs for aging parents... click here for the article.