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Are you thinking about the holidays you spent with your family and especially your aging parents? With the New Year here and as you think about your family, were you able to spend extra time speaking with and just being with your aging parents?

While you were together, did you notice if your parents had any noticeable new issues or impairments that were not there in the previous year? Did your parents open up to you and discuss any new diagnoses or changes to medications? Were you able to discuss their future, at all? Did you address concerns you, or they, may have surrounding long-term care planning?

Unfortunately, for many of us, the answers to the questions above are no. While we may have been very aware of specific issues with our aging parents during the holidays, we did not necessarily want to address them at the time. Instead, the holidays were a time for being together, celebrating, and observation. Now that the New Year is here we know that there may be vital long-term care questions that need to be answered. The following are questions and comments we frequently encounter with our clients and their loved ones right here on our blog.

1. Have they completed any long-term care planning?  Ask now if you do not know the answer.  This question will begin the conversation with your aging parents and let you know whether your parents have taken any steps to plan for their long-term care. You may happily learn that they have a complete long-term care plan already in place. Sadly, though, you may learn that they have no planning in place. In the alternative, maybe they started long-term care planning years ago and the plan may need to be updated.

2. Have they chosen someone to make medical decisions for them were they to suddenly become incapacitated? This question does not make for a great holiday dinner conversation but you need to be prepared and know their wishes. If your loved ones become suddenly incapacitated, is there a family member or close friend, who understands their wishes regarding medical care and would trust him or her to make medical decisions in line with their wishes? Most importantly, if there is, have they completed their estate plan to give legal authority to this person to act? 

3. Again, in regard to financial decision making, who do they want to handle their finances? As in the scenario above, if they become mentally incapacitated, who would want to take over their finances and pay their bills or hire a caregiver? No one truly wants to live in a nursing home should their long-term care needs become so severe that they cannot care for themselves. The key is to talk about what they want now, so you can create a plan that allows them to live the way they want to as they age.

4. Have your aging parents thought about whether they would prefer to stay in their home or are they interested in assisted living? Some people want to remain in their home at all costs, while others may become afraid and prefer to live in an environment where assistance is available. If your aging parents want to remain in their home, it may be necessary to make safety modifications or arrange for a caregiver. If your parents prefer assisted living, facilities should be visited and a plan for covering the cost discussed.

5. The most important question now is, if a nursing home becomes necessary, how will they pay for it?  This last question is often one of the most difficult to discuss, but statistics alone indicate more than half of senior Americans will eventually require nursing home care and the cost can be devastating. This is where you can assist your parents in understanding that they may need to purchase long-term care insurance.  You can also advise them to meet with their Florida elder law attorney to create a trust for asset protection. This trust may allow them to qualify for Medicaid, and may prevent them from losing their life savings to the cost of nursing home care.

Having conversations surrounding these questions will provide a great starting point to assist your loved ones in creating a solid estate plan to meet their future needs as the New Year begins.

Our office can assist with the planning necessary to achieve their goals. While it may feel like an uncomfortable topic to broach, in the long run, helping loved ones plan for the future is critical. At Britton G. Swank, P.A., our mission is to guide you in the right direction to help you provide for yourself and your loved ones no matter what the future holds. We want to help you control the assets you have, leave them to people and causes you care about, when you want, in the way you want. We can help you take care of yourself and those you love in the event of disability due to illness, injury or old age. No matter what risks unfold, we can help give you the comfort of knowing you are prepared. We want you to feel good about your future and the future of your loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.