Okay, I get it.
It is an uncomfortable topic. Many families do not discuss finances. It is considered taboo. And children are taught to stay out of their parent’s personal business. That includes their finances.
And This Needs to Change.
Many problems that wind up in our office could have been avoided. Proper planning a communication with the whole family can eliminate a lot of headaches we see.
Rolling the Dice
Let’s face it, tragedy can strike at any time. However, the older we get the higher the odds are that an accident or illness may happen. Are you really ready to roll the dice?
1. A Fall or Other Accident May Leave You Physically Incapacitated
If we have heard it once we have heard this story a thousand times. Mom or dad has fallen and winds up in the hospital. They are incapacitated. However, no one in the family has a power of attorney. Their hands are tied. They are unable to make medical decisions. And furthermore, if there are multiple children each may have a different opinion.
Sibling Rivalry rears its ugly head and everybody wants to do something different. Chances are (hopefully) they are all wanting to help their parent. But they each have different beliefs and views on what is the best way. And so, the fight begins and the family unit is torn apart. Is this really what you want for your family?
And how are your bills going to get paid while you are recouping?
Hopefully, if you have fallen, you still have your cognitive abilities. An Elder law attorney can come to see you in the hospital and help get your documents in order. But wouldn’t it be less stressful to do that before there is a problem?
2. A Stroke or Other Serious Health Situation that Leaves You Mentally Incapacitated
Now we have a more serious situation. You have not planned for this. Yet here it is. Hopefully you have at least named someone as your POA (Power of Attorney) and hopefully, you have other documents in place to ensure that your medical needs and decisions are respected.
Have you discussed your finances with your POA? Do they know how much you have available? Often families come in because they do not know what to do. A stroke that left dad incapacitated means he now needs long-term care.
And Medicare Does Not Pay for That
Families are shocked to discover that Medicare does not pay for a home care worker to stay with dad during the day while his daughter is at work. You may be able to get a few hours a week from Home Healthcare for a limited time. But they will not cook, clean, run errands or play chess with Dad. Nor will it pay for an Assisted living facility or nursing home. These costs will have to come out of pocket.
And if there is not any money or not enough money you may have to apply for Medicaid. But planning this ahead of your actual need is necessary. Applying for Medicaid is a process. And having a plan in place is important.
“I was ashamed that I had not saved enough money for retirement. So, I hid that fact from my children. I was hoping that I would just die in my sleep one day and we would not have to deal with any of this” ~ Sharon, a stroke survivor
3. The Long Slow Slide into Dementia
It is common to want to believe this is not happening. To yourself or to someone you love. But the signs are there. Subtle in the beginning but nevertheless there. Pretending that this is not or will not happen is not a strategy that works for anyone.
“Dad was having a good time traveling across the country with his race car. I was proud of him. He was 78 and still so active and seemed to really be enjoying life. But looking back there were signs. It was uncomfortable. And I did not want to believe there could be a problem. I wanted his life and my life to continue on this happy course. And then our little Utopia came crashing down around us. Dad showed up at my house a few days before hurricane Harvey hit Houston. It would flood our home and we would not return for a year. Dad’s car had obviously been wrecked. He could give me no logical explanation about what happened. Though I was concerned I had other worries to deal with now as Harvey invaded our home. And then Dad disappeared.” ~ Claire, Daughter and Harvey Survivor
Claire’s father was eventually found. He had gone home. To the home, he had shared with his now ex-wife and Claire’s mom. They had been divorced for over 25 years. She still lived there and let him in. She could tell something was wrong.
As an only daughter, Claire had POA but the money she thought Dad had had all been spent or possibly given away. People with beginning dementia are especially vulnerable to con artists and crooks.
What’s Your Plan?
Having a plan and strategy in place can help families avoid having to make important decisions during stressful times. Take a few hours to attend a workshop. Learn about what you need to have in place. Have the money conversation with your family. This way they will know what to do when tragedy strikes.