Most of us like to believe that our parents will always remain the strong and vibrant individuals we remember from our childhood. It’s not easy to accept that one day we may have to take on the role of our aging parents’ caregivers. However, it is a fact of life that many of us will have to come to terms with and try our best to make the time during their golden years as secure and carefree as possible for them as well as for ourselves. In order to achieve this, it is important to respect their wishes and needs which means we should discuss any vital issues while they are relatively healthy and able to decide how they want to spend this part of their lives.
Housing or Living Situation
Stay or Move
One of the most important considerations regarding the welfare of our aging parents is where they will be living. Many older people have been living in the same neighborhood for a considerable amount of time and are reluctant to move to a new smaller home in a different location. If they are not interested in relocating to a retirement community then you need to evaluate their current living situation and decide what you should do to make the home more comfortable for their current and future needs.
Some of the changes to the current home could be minor, like installing handrails or better lighting. On the other hand, some changes could be costlier and more complicated, for example, chairlifts or moving the master bedroom and other amenities to the ground floor. Of course, if we aren’t able to help with the housework (e.g. cleaning or cooking) as much as we’d like, we may have to help our parents hire professional help which can also be costly.
Staying In Touch
Fortunately, today’s technology can help us keep in touch much easier. This can help us monitor their health and safety, as long as we ensure that they are willing and able to use it. Ideally, it would be convenient if we lived near our parents so we could be by their side at a moment’s notice but when we live hundreds or even thousands of miles away, it’s comforting to know that we have the technology to keep us connected to them 24-7.
Health is something on everyone’s mind these days but when we are considering the care of our aging parents, health is a top priority. Naturally, as we age, we will most likely have increased health issues. Consequently, we have to ensure that our parents are being provided with the best possible health care to maintain their quality of life.
Firstly, we need to have information about the doctors or other health providers which they currently visit and if they are satisfied with their services. In cases where our aging parents have chronic conditions and need to visit on a regular basis multiple medical specialists or have to be provided with home health care services, we might have to hire a geriatric care manager. This is especially important if we live far from our parents and can’t help them with meeting their activities of daily living.
It’s also quite important to have an updated list of all the current medications they need to be taking along with the dosage instructions. Additionally, we should be aware of any side effects due to the medication and where they normally get their prescriptions filled.
Health Care Costs
The cost of the health care being provided should also be addressed. It’s important for us to know the health insurance coverage our parents have currently and possibly the coverage they may need. For example, can their needs be covered by Medicare, or should they also consider Medigap insurance, which is a private policy that can cover numerous costs that are not covered by Medicare? Furthermore, it may be a good idea to examine the possibility of long-term care insurance to assist our aging parents to cover extended custodial or nursing home care.
Finally, one of the things which most of us would like to avoid but we discuss with our parents is an advance medical directive. This is a formal document that clearly states our parents’ wishes regarding life-support measures. If this is ever needed, it would help avoid a great deal of anxiety and stress since it designates the individual who will express their wishes to health-care professionals on their behalf.
Legal & Financial Considerations
We all want what’s best for our beloved parents and would not want to see what they have saved after a lifetime of hard work mismanaged. We have to consider the fact that our parents might not always have the capacity to manage their own legal or financial affairs. There is also the possibility that they could become victims of financial exploitation. Consequently, it is highly recommended that we plan ahead and complete the appropriate legal documents, like a durable power of attorney, to make it easier for us to assist them in such important matters if they are unable to do so themselves.
Keep Track of Assets
One of the first things we need to discuss with your parents is where they have their financial assets. We should have a list of their bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts. On this list we should include account numbers, name(s) on accounts, and online usernames and passwords. What’s more, we should know where to find all of their insurance policies, Social Security cards, property and vehicle titles, and tax returns. It’s also important to be aware of any existing loans and where they keep their unpaid bills. Additionally, in case our parents have a home safe or a safe-deposit box, we should be able to access them.
Paying The Bills
Activities of daily living like paying bills or reviewing receipts and credit card/bank statements is something we should discuss with your parents as well to ensure all their bills and financial obligations are taken care of at the appropriate time. If our parents are advised by specific financial, legal, or tax professionals, it would be useful if we had their contact information and attended meetings with them in order to have a better idea of our parents’ financial situation.
Will and Executor
Having a will and an executor should be discussed with our parents since their property or estate will be divided according to the intestacy laws of the state our parents reside. It is a good idea to have our parents review their will every five years to ensure it represents their current wishes. Moreover, we should remind our parents that they could also set a designated beneficiary for assets such as insurance policies, pensions, IRAs, and investment accounts.
Finally, an overall estate plan, or trust should be taken into consideration since they can address many issues (e.g. estate taxes, keeping assets in the family or avoid probate). Living trusts can be used to manage an estate while our parents are still living but we need the advice of professionals who can structure an estate plan that meets the wishes/needs of our parents.
For information about wealth management, please use our online contact form or call us at (888) 671-7891 today. Our team of advisors will work with you to develop a customized financial plan specific to your personal goals and current needs!
Securities and financial planning offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Multop Financial is not affiliated with LPL Financial, and offers tax and accounting services separate and apart from LPL Financial.
This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material. Contact your plan sponsor if you would like more details regarding applicable provisions of your specific retirement plan.