Necessary Conversations for Older Children and Elder Parents
As your parents get older, it becomes time to have some difficult conversations. You need to make sure that your parents and the rest of your family are prepared for your parents’ elder care, as well as what happens after they pass. Estate planning and elder planning are key to ensuring your parents’ wishes are fulfilled at all stages of their life and beyond, and that the rest of you aren’t caught up in unnecessary legal battles when eventualities occur.
Below we discuss a few of the important conversations you and your parents should start having as they reach an advanced age. For help with estate planning and elder planning in Washington, call a compassionate Vancouver estate planning attorney.
Identify Key People
Elder planning requires making sure that adult children are ready for their parents to age. In order to ensure that the elderly parents are cared for, and to mitigate unnecessary conflict should the parent become incapacitated or pass away suddenly, it’s important for the children to have the names and contact information of the important professionals involved in estate planning.
Make sure your parents provide you with contact info for:
- Primary care doctors
- Financial planner and/or accountant
- Minister or other religious official
- Insurance brokers
- Important family members and close friends
These individuals might need to get involved should your parents become incapacitated or pass away. Make sure you know who they are and how to track them down.
Discuss Important Estate Planning Documents
If your parents are getting older, it’s important to discuss their plans for their estate. How they handle their estate plan will affect you and your family should they pass away. The last thing they would want is for you and your family to wind up arguing in probate court about your parents’ true wishes.
Even if your parent chooses not to share the specifics with you, make sure that they at least have an estate plan, and that you know where you can locate those documents. Their estate planning attorney should have the most recent copy of their estate plan documents, and you should have that attorney’s contact information.
Your parent should have at least a last will and testament, but with their estate planning attorney and other financial advisors they might also wish to set up:
- One or more trusts
- A durable power of attorney for financial decisions
- A healthcare power of attorney
- A healthcare directive
- Nominations for a conservator for the elderly
- Nomination for a guardian for any minor children
- Instructions for burial and memorial
- And many others
Discuss Insurance, Tax Returns, and Other Practicalities
It’s helpful for you to know what insurance coverage your parents have and when it might kick in, including health insurance, life insurance, long-term care insurance, home insurance, and disability insurance. You may be responsible for contacting these insurance companies for benefits or to cease policies; make sure you know who to contact and where the policies are located.
You should also have an understanding of where to track down other important documents such as tax returns, account statements, stock ownership, etc. You’ll be thankful later when you have a handy list of all financial professionals and/or documents necessary to get your parents’ affairs in order.
Discuss Plans for Elder Care and End-of-Life Wishes
It’s not easy to talk about what happens when your parents get old, but it’s important nonetheless. You should have a discussion about what happens when they become incapacitated due to age, illness, or injury. That may include the items listed above–a healthcare directive and power of attorney, etc.–as well as specifics about the type of situation they prefer. Do they prefer at-home nursing care or an assisted living facility? Can you and your family afford their preferred option, or are there steps you can take to ensure they qualify for Medicare or other financial aid?
For the worst-case scenarios, your parents should establish a living will dictating decisions about the hardest moments, such as when to provide life-saving treatment and when to withdraw life support should they become comatose or vegetative. You should also discuss their preferred burial and memorial options. These are difficult discussions to have, but it’s important that your loved ones express their wishes so that you can carry them out, rather than having to make such a decision on your own or in conflict with other family members.
Call Vancouver Attorney John Lutgens for Help Planning Your Estate in Washington State
For assistance with estate planning in Vancouver, or elsewhere throughout Washington, contact seasoned Vancouver estate planning and asset protection lawyer John Lutgens for a no-cost consultation at 360-693-2119.