Last week we met with the adult children of an older couple that needs help. Dad was taking care of mom on a full time basis—she has been living with dementia for the last five years— until he had a stroke. Now mom is receiving 24/7 care from a home care agency while dad’s been recovering in a skilled rehab facility for the last 3 weeks.
It is unclear if he will be able to return home, but he will certainly not be able to return to his role as mom’s primary caregiver. This family has some tough decisions to make, and one big decision they have to make is how to pay for the care that both parents need.
The adult children sat at our conference room table, unsure of where to even start. In their words, “Dad has always been very private. We don’t know much about their finances.”
Older adults can be tight-lipped about their finances.
Their desire to stay independent, in control, and unbothered by their adult children leads them to share little with their adult children or other loved ones.
Unfortunately, more and more adult children are finding themselves thrown into the middle of their parents’ personal affairs once an illness, disease, or accident changes the parents’ ability to manage their affairs independently.
Those adult children that have been kept in the dark have the hardest time with this sudden change.
If you have aging loved ones that you are concerned about, and if those older adults are of sound mind, NOW is the time to sit down with them and talk about their finances. Here is how you can start:
- Ask them to share the basics of their financial situation. Where does their income come from? Does it cover their monthly expenses? What do their assets look like? You may find our Confidential Planning Packet to be a helpful guide in knowing what to ask. You can ask your loved one to complete this packet of information, supplying you with many important details about their finances.
- Ask them to share information about their estate planning documents. Is there a valid and updated Power of Attorney for Finances? How about an Advance Directive? And what about a will? For more information on each of these documents, check out our website and other blogs on this topic.
- Ask them the location of all of their important documents. If you ever have to probate someone else’s estate or apply for public benefits on someone else’s behalf, there is a tremendous amount of documents that must be supplied to DFCS or the VA (see this checklist to get an idea of what must be completed). Asking your loved one about their documents and their organization will help you if you ever need to act on their behalf. Our checklist Being Prepared: A practical guide to getting your affairs in order is a useful tool when pulling together these important documents.
The conversation may be uncomfortable, but it must be done. And even if you think it’s too early, start the conversation.
It always seems like it’s too early to plan—until it’s too late.
For our adult children who were left in the dark when dad had a stroke, they are slowly combing through dad’s papers, piecing together what they can. It is tiresome and uncertain, but it’s the best they can do. May their situation be a warning to the rest of us—talk to your loved ones about your finances, your wishes, and your plans.
Hurley Elder Care Law helps families by creating detailed legal, financial, and care plans. If you’re ready to learn more, please call our office at (404) 843-0121 or email us a firstname.lastname@example.org