Yes! Your Parents Finances Are Your Business

 

I am not sure how or why money, especially your parent’s money, became such a taboo topic.

“It was well understood in my home that you did not ask any questions about money. If you did you would quickly be told that it was none of your business. And since I was taught to respect my elders I did not ask. Oh, how I wish I would have!” ~Carol

Carol’s Parents Were Very Proud.

They were also frugal. And privacy was important to them. Carol and her brother had no idea what their parent’s financial situation was. When Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease Carol and her brother tried to broach the topic again but Dad refused to have the conversation. They backed off, not wanting to upset either parent.

 

 

Dementia Creeps In

As with some Parkinson’s patients, dementia was part of the process. It soon became clear that Carol and Jim’s Mom could not take care of their Dad alone. Their Dad was a large man. He was 6’4 and weighed about 240 lbs. He began having a series of falls. And he would get angry and then confused when this happened.

Marie, Carol, and Jim’s Mom was a small woman. She was 5’3” tall and just a wee bit over 100 lbs. There was no way she could lift her husband James when he fell.

Several of the neighbors helped. But Marie hated to be an imposition and James was embarrassed. A few times she even had to call the fire department to help in the middle of the night.

Protecting Their Adult Children

And they kept this information from Carol and Jim. Marie didn’t want to worry the children. Carol lived 4 hours away. Jim lived closer but he was busy with his work and his own family. He stopped by every week or two. But this was not enough to get a clear picture of what was going on.

The Crisis

Then Marie had a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital and had to have surgery. Jim and Carol had their eyes preyed wide open.  Staying with Dad they wondered how their Mom was able to take care of dad this past couple of years.

Getting Answers

social worker

The social worker at the hospital wanted to help. But the problem was without knowing about their parent’s financial situation it would be hard. Mom would stay in the hospital for a week or so and then would be transferred to a rehabilitation facility to heal and get her strength back. 20 to 30 days would most likely be all that Medicare would pay for. After that, the family would be responsible to pay for their care.

The fact is Marie could not continue to try to care for her husband alone. And Jim and Carol both worked and had families to care for also. And it was also clear that Dad needed around the clock care.

There Were a Lot of Care Options.

From home care to assisted living to care homes and nursing homes. And for 24-hour care, the costs ranged from $3500 to over $12,000 per month. And without knowing what their parent’s financial situation was, Carol and Jim had their hand’s tied.

It was pretty clear that Dad could not make the financial decisions. With Marie out of the house, he became agitated and more confused than ever. Though Mom would heal with time and only need minimal assistance, Dad was a different story. James needed someone to assist him 24 hours a day.

Help From an Attorney

Two middle aged friends on a computer.

Luckily Marie was able to recover. She and her children sat down with an Elder Law Attorney to make sure all of the necessary paperwork was in place. Furthermore, their attorney was knowledgeable of the local eldercare community. As such, she was able to refer them to the right professionals who could help. And the good news was, they had a long-term care policy and James qualified for VA Aid and Attendance benefits. The attorney would be able to help them get these benefits.

This is Not an Uncommon Story.

And while this story turned out to have a silver lining, not all families are that lucky. Some may need help to apply for Medicaid benefits. The truth may be that mom and Dad do not have any savings or a long-term care policy to help. These families also need to help of an Elder Law Attorney. Applying for Medicaid is quite a process. Most families need assistance to make sure everything is done correctly. With a couple, it is important that there is still some income for the spouse to live on.

Free Elder Law Workshops- No Charge and No Obligation

Though the details may change somewhat from family to family, many find themselves in this predicament.  Attend one of the workshops that we offer at no charge. Discover what you need to know to plan for the future. Do it for yourself and for those you love. See Our Workshop Schedule

Medical Directives- Helping You Have Control Over How You Die

 

While we all hope that we will just drift away and die in our sleep one day, the reality is this is not what usually happens.

Portrait of beautiful smiling 45 years old woman

Judy and her two sisters wanted to do everything possible to keep dad alive. They were willing to do whatever measures were available to keep him alive. And to keep their hope alive. A feeding tube was inserted to help dad get the nutrition she needed. He was given antibiotics to keep infection at bay. One medical intervention after another was offered. The sisters accepted everything hoping and praying for a miracle.

Their brother John, on the other hand, was appalled. “This is not what Dad would have wanted! We need to let him go!”

His sisters accused him of not caring. The said he was being selfish. And so, the family divide began.

And in the end, Dad died. After all, he was 88 years old. No matter what they tried he was just not able to recover from the stroke he had.

And the damage had been done. His children were no longer speaking.

Do you want life-sustaining treatment when you are nearing the end?

Whether the answer is yes or no to this question doesn’t matter. This is a personal choice. What does matter is that your family knows your wishes? And it needs to be in writing. Everything should be clearly spelled out. There are two documents that you should have in place. One is a DNR and the other is a POLST.

What is a DNR?

DNR stands for Do Not Resuscitate. This order alerts doctors, nurses, and emergency personnel that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should not be used to keep a person alive in case of a medical emergency.  Someone who is ill may want to refuse any life-sustaining treatment. As such they may have a DNR on file with their doctors, hospital and other personnel.

What is a POLST?

This acronym stands for Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment. This is a binding document with your doctor. It is kept as part of your medical files. A POLST declares a patient’s preference for receiving certain life-sustaining treatments. Other treatment options the patient does not want will also be included as a part of this document.

If you do not want to have a feeding tube, antibiotics or to be hydrated you need to make your wishes known. Had Judy and John’s dad had this document in place the family may still be intact. Instead, harsh accusations were made in a time of grief.

This document should be made when you are not in a medical crisis that could affect your decision making.

And there are other documents you also need to have in place. Planning ahead will help your family make the best decisions for your care according to your wishes.

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The Hilbun Law Firm offers free weekly Workshops.  Both evening and lunchtime workshops are available. RSVP for one today! View our calendar.

 

Power of Attorney

Mom Refuses to Give Me Power of Attorney

 

“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

Power of Attorney

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.