“On top of that, she does not have a will!” Kimm cried
Kimm’s mom has COPD and Kimm is her only child. We recently had the discussion about the need to have different documents in order. Having a will is important and may help you to avoid costly probate.
And You Need Other Documents Also
But there are other documents that may be important to have in place also. A Power of Attorney (POA) is one of these such documents. Kimm’s mother is afraid she will be giving up her ability to make her own financial and medical decisions. This is a common concern among many seniors.
Nothing Could Be Further from The Truth
But Kimm’s Mom Caren has no need to worry. She is in good health and her mind is sharp. As such the document could not be used to override any decisions she might make. However, if she were to become ill or be in an accident the Power of Attorney could be a really useful tool. If Caren were incapacitated and medical decisions needed to be made her daughter would have her hands tied without a POA.
Accidents, a Stroke or Sudden Illness
Likewise, if she were incapacitated for a long period someone would need to be able to manage her finances. Bills still need to be paid. Someone who has a stroke could be incapable of managing their finances for months or even longer.
If Caren loves and trusts her daughter to make good decisions for her in a crisis she needs to appoint her as a power of attorney. If she feels her daughter would make poor decisions or not act in her best interest then she should choose someone else to fulfill that role. Without a power of attorney in place, Caren will be at the mercy of the medical team. Her financial situation could also be in jeopardy.
What about Guardianship?
True, Kimm could file to become her mother’s guardian if something happened. However, the process is long and quite costly. At a time when Kimm will want to spend time caring for and loving her mom, she will be frustrated. Having a parent in the hospital is stressful enough. And just going through the legal process can be exhausting. Put the two together and the situation can become overwhelming.
So How Do I Get Mom to Listen?
This can be a real challenge. A lot of how you approach an elderly loved one will depend on your relationship with them. If you describe the relationship as challenging (meaning you butt heads a lot) you may need to have a mediator. This could be a pastor you both like, a valued friend or relative, or an attorney or other paid mediator.
The Key is You Need to Communicate.
You need to communicate how you feel about life, death and everything in between. You may have different beliefs about medical intervention. One may believe that everything possible should be done no matter what. The other may feel that heroic measures should not be taken when the prognosis is low.
How do you feel? And how does your parent feel? Can you respect their beliefs? Do they have a living will in place to ensure their desires are respected? Having a discussion like this is important. And make sure you are listening. This is not the time or the conversation to try to sway your parent to your way of thinking. Instead, this is a time to learn about their beliefs and desires.
Do You Have Your Documents in Place?
So you want Mom to get all of her ducks in a row. You want to make sure she has a POA, will, Living will and anything else that could be needed. But do you have your documents in place? If you are 18 or older you should. Let’s face it, accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age.
Attend a Workshop Together
In fact, get other family members involved. Ask mom if she has a friend or neighbor who could be interested too. The more the merrier! This way it will not feel like you are trying to boss her around. And you will all get the facts! If you are getting documents in order for your family it will seem natural for her to do the same. Add other family members into the equation and the idea will be reinforced. Now it is a smart decision that she is making.
The Hilbun Law Firm has weekly workshops. They are no charge and we promise you will have fun learning with us. Remember, what you don’t know will hurt you. See the schedule here.