The holidays are often called the most wonderful time of the year, especially for aging parents. For many families who live far apart, they are also a time when adult children and grandchildren travel to visit aging parents. Even if you are in regular contact by phone and email, it can be tough to recognize signs of aging that require further attention until you are with your loved ones in person. Do you know what to look for during holiday visits to aging parents?
Let us talk about some of the signs that it may be time to look into getting your aging parent some day to day assistance, or to begin exploring options for long-term care.
The first thing to look for in your aging parents is forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is often one of the first signs to watch for. It is normal for memory to change over time. If your parents, however, are forgetting routine and long-term information, such as their street address or how to get to the grocery store, this could be a sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Decrease in socialization can also be a red flag in aging parents. If your normally active, social parent is spending a lot less time out of the house, this may be cause for concern, especially if he or she is now living alone after being widowed and is not getting social interaction without a spouse in the house. You can help by looking into local activities at a senior center, house of worship, or the library.
Driving issues are also things to watch for. Unfortunately, your parents probably taught you to drive, and you may be the person who has to take away their keys. If vision and spatial issues become too much and impair their ability to drive safely, it is probably time to sit down and talk to your parents about alternatives.
Additionally, be mindful of cleanliness. If your parents’ home has unexpected piles of junk mail and newspapers suddenly stacking up in the corners, it may be time to talk about getting them some help to organize and discard. If there is a true cleanliness issue, however, with food not being disposed of properly or mold accumulation, it can also be a sign of dementia.
Our office remains committed to serving the elderly and their loved ones. For legal help and support concerning elder law issues, please reach out to us to schedule an appointment.
While parents today may be generally informed that they could be liable for the debts of their children, they rarely consider whether they may actually find themselves on the hook for the debts of their parents. Did you know that over half of the United States have filial responsibility statutes on the books? This may come as a surprise to many people.
A filial responsibility law provides that an adult child has the responsibility to support his or her adult parent. The statutes vary between states. Arkansas requires only payment for mental health services and Connecticut only applies if the parent is under sixty-five. Meanwhile, a court in Pennsylvania entered a judgment of $93,000.00 against an adult son for his mother’s nursing home bill.
The positive news may be that, in most instances, these statutes are old laws that have not been repealed and are rarely enforced. Until they are removed from the books, however, the risk may be out there that these laws may be used as a collection tactic, as the gentleman in Pennsylvania discovered, much to his chagrin. Once one long-term care facility successfully utilizes the filial responsibility laws to collect from an adult child, it may only be a matter of time, until others follow suit.
The key takeaway here is to take a proactive, rather than a reactive, approach to filial responsibility laws. Having conversations with your parents regarding their finances, as well as, plans to cover the cost of a nursing home before the need arises, can be very important. If they have a long-term care policy, get a copy. It may also be prudent to be designated as their durable power of attorney to manage their finances should they become unexpectedly incapacitated.
An estate planning attorney can explain the filial responsibility laws in your state to you and your parents. In addition, the attorney can discuss options to safeguard against liability under these laws, such as Medicaid eligibility, long-term care insurance, life-insurance policies with long-term-care benefits or even the possibility of a reverse mortgage on your parent’s home. For more questions on this topic and related matters, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.
When we were younger, our parents took care of us and helped us plan for the future. At some point, most of us may have to do the same for our parents and help them plan for the future. Do you know if your parents have an estate plan? It is not only important to know the answer to this question, but to understand the details associated with the answer. Estate planning plays a crucial role in planning for the future.
Today, let us take a moment to discuss six questions to ask your aging parents to help them plan for the future.
1. Do they have a health care surrogate in place? This is one of the most important questions to ask as you want to ensure that they may be taken care of should they become seriously ill and/or incapacitated.
2. Have your parents chosen a trusted individual to take on the health care surrogate role? Selecting a health care surrogate is a decision that should not be taken lightly because this person will be making the decisions on behalf of your parent should he or she become critically ill. Try to ensure the person that they have chosen is responsible and, of course, of sound mind.
3. Where are the original estate planning documents kept? If the time arrives when your parent dies or becomes incapacitated, do you know where the original estate planning documents are kept? The original will is necessary to commence probate. In fact, if you do not have the original it may be very difficult to probate the estate according to the terms of the missing will.
4. Are your parents’ estate planning documents up-to-date? An estate plan is one of the ways that people ensure their legacy will go on and that the assets that they have chosen for their family can be accessed upon their death. Estate plans should be up to date to reflect current living circumstances and major life events. You can talk to your parents about how they can update their estate plan. An estate plan is a great way to help your parents think ahead, but to be most effective it should be up to date.
5. If your parents have a trust, is it properly funded? If not, it could mean a long and expensive probate before you can have access to their assets. To understand it a little better remember, funding a trust means taking assets that are titled in the individual trust settlor’s name and retitling them into the name of the trust.
6. Is your parent working with an attorney they trust? Having a comprehensive and properly drafted estate plan in place can be crucial to securing the future you want for yourself and your loved ones. Having the right estate planning attorney on your side, who understands your unique situation and can advise you appropriately, can be absolutely critical to proper estate planning.
Our firm is committed to representing your best interests and that of your family. We do this by drafting estate plans that have been crafted to meet your unique needs. For help creating your estate plan or answering any related questions, we are here for you. Contact our office today to schedule a meeting.