Tis the season when families gather together to celebrate and to give thanks. From Thanksgiving to the 1st of the New Year there are celebrations no matter what your faith. And families are often together for those celebrations.
While some families see each other often others may only connect during the holiday season. Whether you are together often or only a few times a year there are important conversations that need to happen.
Unfortunately, in our society, some of these topics may be considered taboo. If you have aging parents and you have not had these conversations with them now may be the time. While I do not suggest doing this at the holiday dinner table or celebration it is important to schedule a time to talk.
Here Are 5 Conversations That Are a Must-Have.
The Money Talk
“In my family talking about money was taboo. Especially asking your parents how much they have. I sure wish I would have broken that rule. Not knowing put the family in a bind when dad had an unexpected stroke.” Claire
Questions you need to ask include:
- What’s their financial situation?
- Where are their accounts located?
- Do they have Life or Long-Term Care Insurance?
- Do they have enough to pay their bills right now?
- What if they live another ten or twenty years?
- Do they have a will?
- Do you know where the will is, and the name of the estate planning attorney who created it?
- Do they have powers of attorney for finances in place?
The Health Talk
Who is their primary Care doctor? Are there any specialists?
What type of Medicare Plan are they on? (Medicare advantage or Original Medicare with a supplement?) You should know where their paperwork is located.
Do they take medications? For what conditions? You may suggest that they post a list on their current medications on the refrigerator. This will allow for easy access by you or an emergency medical professional who is called in an emergency.
Have they properly documented a power of attorney for healthcare?
The Aging Talk
What plans do they have if they are no longer able to care for themselves? Would they be open to going to an assisted living facility or a nursing home? Do they know the costs associated with care at home? Do they know how much they will pay for care elsewhere? And finally, will their funds support long-term care?
If they really want to stay in their home a home assessment is in order. Making the home a safe environment for someone who may have physical limitations can keep them in that home much longer. Falls are the #1 reason that seniors end up in the hospital. Though all falls cannot be avoided, making a few changes at home may eliminate some falls.
What if someone is no longer able to drive? What options are available? Nowadays, there are so many options available. Not being able to drive yourself is not as big of a problem as it once was. A lot of seniors do not want to be dependent on their adult children for transportation. With Uber and Lyfte this is not a problem.
But chances are your aging parent does not know how these programs work. GoGo Grandparent makes it easy! When seniors have options that keep them in control, they are more likely to hang up the car keys.
The End of Life Talk
This is often the hardest talk to have. But there really is no time like the present. Do they have a medical directive or a living will? How do they feel about extreme measures being taken to sustain life if they are incapacitated?
Also, ask if they have pre-planned their funeral. You will need to know where these papers are kept. Are they planning cremation or traditional burial? Ask what is important to them about their funeral?
The Family Legacy Talk
This is a much lighter and brighter conversation to have. What do they want the family to remember about them? Are there family recipes, photo books, treasured heirlooms, videos or jewelry they want to pass along? Are there stories they want to share?
Estate planning attorneys, like the Hilbun Law Firm, work with families and aging issues on a regular basis. Attending a workshop together is a great way to start getting the conversation going. Then schedule a consultation, your attorney can help you and your parents make decisions. They’ll know about issues you may not even be aware of.
Attend a Free Estate Planning workshop at the Hilbun Law Firm and get this conversation started!