3 Reasons You Need To Discuss Finances and Legal Issues With Your Parents

 

 

 

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

Long Term Care Options

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.

 

 

 

 

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Honoring Mom

Honoring Mom- 5 Ways to Really “Be There” For Mom

 

 

“I really want to be there for mom.” Beatrice said. “She did everything to help me growing up. Then later when I was in an abusive marriage she helped me and my children. She took us in when we had nowhere to go. And we lived with her for two years while I finished my degree. Mom is 80 now. She is very proud and wants her independence. I really want to “be there” for her and at the same time I do not want to take away her independence”

 

This is a slippery slope many adult children are learning to navigate. We want to honor mom’s wishes and yet we are concerned for their safety and well being. Where do you draw the line?

Here are 5 ways to really “be there” for mom.

1.Help Her Stay Social

Honoring mom

Loneliness can be deadly. Staying social will not just keep mom happy, it will keep her healthy as well. In fact, researchers have found that Late-life depression may increase the risk of incident dementia, in particular of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Additionally, if mom gets depressed she may not eat right, remember to take her medication or get any exercise. All of these things can affect her physical health as well.

So, What Can You Do?

Finding The Best care For mom

Find senior centers and organizations in your area of town. The local YMCA also offers a lot of special classes for seniors. Most people who join end up making a lot of new friends.

If your mother can no longer drive to attend these activities, arrange for transportation. A caregiver agency like Right At Home is partnered with LYFT to provide safe and reliable transportation for seniors in the Cypress, Texas area.

 

2.Hire home care or a housekeeper to help because she is worth it

senior woman with her home caregiver

Mom may tell you she doesn’t need any help. Tell her that she is worth it and you want her to have the best. If she is really hesitant just start with one day a week. Have a schedule of what you would like the care companion to help her do. Maybe making a grocery list, ordering them online and then picking them up later. You could also have the caregiver plan a week of meals and cook a few to freeze.

3.Call Every Day

Yes, even when you are incredibly busy! You do not have to talk very long. But a few minutes to check in can mean so much to someone living alone. If you live far away and cannot see mom often try doing video chats. If Mom has trouble with the technology to make that happen the caregiver could set up the call for her while she is there. Even better, have her set up the call right before she leaves. Make sure to mark this time off of your calendar so you can give mom your undivided attention.

Bob lives in Nevada and his mom is in Cypress, Texas. They do Facetime every morning while they are both having their coffee.

“It’s great! I get to see how she is doing. I know if she didn’t sleep well or is not feeling good. I can relay that information to friends and family close by so they can check in. I think she really enjoys seeing me also and hearing about my life.”

4.Help Protect Her From Scams

Sad but true, scammers prey on the elderly.  The grandparents’ scam (telling the senior that their grandchild is in deep trouble) is a common one. There are also people posing as representatives from Medicare, social security and the IRS and calls with offers for free or discount medication. For seniors that use the internet, they can be vulnerable to even more.

Honoring Mom

Most seniors are terribly embarrassed when they fall victim.

“I felt so stupid Athena told me. I can’t believe I fell for this.”

But the truth is these people are often savvy professional crooks. They know exactly what to say to push your buttons and get you to fall for their schemes. And women over 80 who have lost a spouse or moved in the last three years are most vulnerable.

So, What Can I Do?

Talk to mom about these scams. Don’t lecture or warn her. Nobody wants to be lectured especially by their children. You want to keep the conversation as open as possible. That way if there is a problem now or in the future Mom will feel comfortable talking to you.

Just talk about the different scams you have heard are going around. Ask if any of her friends have been targeted. Having a conversation is the first step.

Honoring Mom

Secondly, you might suggest that you be added to her online banking accounts as an added security. This way you can look for any unusual or large charges that may be a red flag. If Mom will allow you to take over her finances that may be the best option. But don’t expect it to happen. Much like giving up the car keys this is something most seniors want to have control over.

Third, take a look at the mail that she is getting. If she is getting a lot of mailings from promotion companies could indicate the elderly person is on a “sucker list”.

5.Take Mom to An Estate Planning Workshop

Ask her to go with you because you don’t want to go alone. After all, you both need this information. People are sometimes hesitant to talk about finances and future long-term care plans. But if you don’t talk about it now you may find yourself in a world of hurt down the road.

 

The Hilbun Law Firm offers these workshops free every month. We have both daytime and evening workshops. Rest assured you will not be pressured to do anything. And the information will be invaluable to both of you. get the updated workshop schedule here.

 

Depressed, gloomy woman

Mom is Being Evicted From a Nursing Home?

 

Can they do that!! Lori cried. ” Where is the compassion? What am I supposed to do now?”

Most people have probably never given this much thought. They assume that once they place someone in a nursing home, the home will continue to care for them until the last day. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Lori found out the hard way. Lori and her mom cared for her dad who had Parkinson’s disease. It was a long journey. When Mom started having problems, there simply wasn’t any money left. Lori’s mother had dementia, diabetes and a host of other problems. It was not the kind of job that one person could do and Lori seemed to be the only one stepping up to the plate.

Elderly Lady Moving To Nursing Home

 

So she placed her in a nursing home after qualifying her for Medicaid. It was pretty much the only option. They tried Medicaid home care for a while but that didn’t work out. Medicaid pays very low wages. So the quality of the person that was being sent to her home- well let’s just say it wasn’t the best. On top of that, many times, they didn’t even show up.

“I couldn’t count on them”, Lori told me. “I still have to work. I can’t be worrying about what’s going on at Mom’s house when I can’t be there.”

 

As often happens in families, Lori’s brothers and sisters were too busy with their own lives to help out.  So Lori made the difficult decision to place mom in a nursing home. “There just didn’t seem to be any other solution!”, Lori cried. Medicaid beds in Houston are often in high demand. She wanted someplace close so that she could visit often. As her advocate, Lori knew that she was still going to have to be very involved. She just didn’t know how involved she was going to have to be. She felt blessed to find a bed in a facility close by. But the blessings were short lived.

“It was a nightmare! There was never enough caregivers. And if I wasn’t there I know Mom would have gotten any care at all. I usually helped feed the lady that shared a room with Mom. The caregivers would put the food in front of her as if she could eat it herself. She’d had a stroke and was unable to eat unassisted. But I can’t totally blame the caregivers.  They’re caring for so many people. And I also know that they get low wages too. Some of them work two jobs to make ends meet. So on top of having too many people to care for they are also often sleep deprived.”

On numerous occasions, Lori’s mom ended up in the hospital. Lack of care on the nursing homes part was usually the reason.  Diabetics are prone to infections. As such infections that got out of control would land her in the hospital often. One time, Lori decided she’d had enough.

Finding A New Nursing Home

Elderly woman is assisted in nursing home

She wanted to switch mom to a new nursing home in hopes that she might get better care. This was the time to do it. Her mom was getting ready to be discharged. As such she would need rehabilitation care. Since Medicare would pay for that it made it easier to make the switch. A new nursing home would be happy to get those Medicare dollars. So she contacted several nursing homes in the area and the one that she was interested in came out to assess her mother.

The Assessment

Mom would be going to the nursing home on Medicare benefits. She needed some rehab after her Hospital stay and Medicare would pay for a short period of rehabilitation. The nursing home agreed that after her Rehabilitation she could have a permanent room as a Medicaid patient.

Lori was thrilled. The new nursing home was close to home. It looked much cleaner and more updated than the last one. And from what she could see, the care seemed to be pretty good. Oh, she knew should still have to stop by, after all, she was moms advocate. But she had high hope for a brighter future for her mother. So the transfer was made.

Adjusting To Change Is  Often Difficult

As is common, Lori’s mother had some difficulty adjusting to the new place. She moved from one nursing home to the hospital and now to a new nursing home. Someone with dementia has a lot of difficulty with change. So Lori was there helping her mother acclimate.

The Money Ran Out

But when the Medicare dollars ran out the nursing home administrator called her in. “We can’t continue to care for your mom”, she told her. She’s got dementia and she’s upsetting the other patients with her constant hollering.”

Lori was shocked. They had assessed her mom in the hospital. “They knew she had dementia!” Lori said. In fact, when the case manager came to assess her, mom was hollering, as usual, help me help me. It’s a typical cry people with dementia often have. They’re frightened and they just want reassurance.

And Now Here They Were Kicking Her Out.

Lori discovered the reason why. Nursing homes get up paid a lot higher dollar for Medicare patients than they do for Medicaid patients. Though they have to take some Medicaid patients  they really prefer not to.

 

By Law, there are 6 reasons that allow for transfer or discharge of a patient.

  • The resident needs a higher level of care;
  • The resident no longer needs nursing facility care;
  • The resident has endangered others’ safety;
  • The resident endangers other residents’ health;
  • A failure to pay; or
  • The SNF is closing.

The Reason They Used

And Lori’s case the nursing home was using the first reason. They said she needed Memory Care.  But the problem was, there were no memory care beds available for Medicaid patient anywhere in Houston.

In fact, there are very few nursing homes that specialize in memory care and those that do only take a handful of Medicaid patients. Lori’s mom did not need to be in a locked facility. She was unable to walk and could not move very far in her wheelchair. She had never hurt or threatened anyone at the facility. She simply became frightened and agitated in the later part of the day.

Reaching out to an Ombudsman, Lori was able to have some help. The Ombudsman helped her mediate with the nursing home to come up with a solution. It wasn’t ideal but Lori would do it.

The Compromise

Typical of dementia, Lori’s Mom’s behavior problems usually started in the late afternoon. It is often referred to as Sundowners. As the sun goes down many people with dementia suffer from agitation, anxiety and other stress-related symptoms. This can cause them to act out in ways that are not their normal personality.

So, Lori Agreed that she would visit her mom every day from 4 in the afternoon till 9 at night. She would be there to attend to her needs. It wasn’t easy. “ I felt like they were getting a free extra caregiver,” Lori complained.

Unfortunately, the situation is not uncommon in Houston. If you have additional questions about what a nursing home can or cannot do visit our website, set up an appointment, or come to one of our workshops.

 

7 Reasons You Need to See an Elder Law Attorney

exhausted businesswoman

Let’s face it. There are probably a lot of things you have been putting off. You know they need to be done (like that colonoscopy you were supposed to have 3 years ago :-). But the truth is doing some things may not be comfortable. So, we procrastinate.

According to Wikipedia- Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline.

In the case of estate planning a deadline translates into a crisis. Talk to any Elder Law Attorney and they will tell you horror stories of families who failed to plan. These people called them when in the middle of a crisis. There had been an accident or sudden illness. And the legal documents were not in place. These families needed help and they needed it fast.

Unfortunately, waiting until a crisis could cost you plenty. Sarah found out the hard way.

“Because we didn’t have the right legal documents in order we couldn’t make decisions for mom. We had to go through a long legal process and a guardian had to be appointed. It was terribly expensive and emotionally draining” Sharon

#1- You Have an Aging Parent

Aging parent- reason to hire elder law attorney

Let’s face it if you have a parent who is still alive, they are aging. Planning for the future can never happen too soon. Your parent may be healthy and still rather young but it is important that they have their legal documents in order.  Let’s face it, nobody plans to have a health crisis.Having a will is a good first step but there are a lot of other documents to consider. A good way to figure out what you may need is to attend an Estate Planning workshop.

Talking about money, estate planning, funerals and such may not be very comfortable. However, not talking about these things could be devastating for everyone involved.

 

#2- You Have Children and Other Family Members You Want to Protect

Planning for the future is about doing the right thing. Making sure that everything is in place in the event of an accident, sudden illness or death can be the best gift you ever give your children.

Chidren- Reason to hire an elder law attorney“ I never thought about estate planning or about what legal documents everyone should have in place. As a healthy 50-year-old man I thought I was a long way off to needing any assistance.  I was physically fit and rode my mountain bike daily after work. Sometimes I even took a 45-minute ride at lunch. There was a park with trails close to the office. It was on one of those lunchtime rides that I had my accident. I broke my leg, 4 ribs, my pelvic bone and my collarbone. I also had a concussion. It was hours before I was found. Since my wife and I were divorced and our children were underage there was no one who could make medical decisions, take care of my bills or anything else I needed. Luckily, I  was not unconscious when I arrived at the hospital.”  Steve

 

#3 You Own Any Kind of Property.

Own property- Reason to hire an elder law attorney

 

A lot of people believe that they do not need estate planning because they are not wealthy. The truth is if you own any kind of property; a home, car, boat, land etc., you need a plan in place. Not having a plan could cause a lot of headaches for your loved ones and could also come with a huge financial burden.

 

 #4 You Have a Child with Special Needs

Reason to hire elder law attorney- special needs

 

If you have a child with special needs it is imperative that you plan for their future as soon as possible. Not doing so could leave your child vulnerable and at the will of the courts. Make sure you talk to an attorney who has experience working with families of children with special needs. Your child is counting on you.Don’t let them down!

 

 #5 You Have Special Needs

Special Needs- Reason To Hire Elder Law Attorney

 

Needs such as Early-onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS or another chronic illness. An Estate planning attorney can work hand in hand with your financial advisor. Additionally, they can refer you to a reputable advisor if you do not have one. Planning for future health events that could happen will ensure that you get the best possible care when you need. Additionally, your planning will help to relieve excess stress your family would experience without a plan.

 

#6 You Want to Avoid Sibling Squabbles Among Your Children

siblings- reason to hire a elder law attorney

 

We have all heard the stories of families that got into huge fights over the estate. You may think this only happens to the wealthy. Not so. Everyday middle-class folks like you may experience this in their family. And if you think it cannot happen to you, think again. Many families report being shocked at how a family member behaved. Illness and death bring up a lot of emotions. And the truth is people do not always behave well when they are grieving.

 

An attorney can help you set up your estate to avoid many of the conflicts that could arise. They will also give ideas about how to have the conversation about your desires and wishes.

 

#7 You Want to Make Sure Your Wishes Are Honored After You Are Gone.

Reason to hire an elder law attorney

 

You really want to make sure that your daughter Sue gets Grandma’s diamond and emerald necklace. They were close and Sue helped you care for your mom. If your son gets it, it would end up going to his wife or being sold. Neither of which you would be happy with. Also, you want to make sure that your step-daughter doesn’t end up with it. It is important that this heirloom is kept in the family.

 

 

An estate planning attorney can help you to craft your will and put the proper trusts in place to make sure your wishes are carried out. This way your wishes will be honored. Don’t put this task off. Do it for the ones you love.

The Hilbun Law Firm has regularly scheduled workshops to help you learn about the law to know what documents you need to have in place. Check out the schedule here.