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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Answering Your Parents Long-Term Care Questions After the Holidays

The holidays are over, the New Year is here, and for most of us the time spent with family has ended. During your time with family, we hope you were able to speak to and spend time with your aging parents.

While speaking with your parents, did you discuss the future?  Did you notice if they had any substantial issues or impairments that were not there last year? Did they talk to you about any new diagnoses or changes to medications?  Finally, were you able to address concerns you, or they, may have about long-term care planning? 

Unfortunately the chances for any of the above questions being discussed or answered is probably no. The holidays are not really a good time to tackle aging issues, but instead, for most families the holidays are a time for being together, celebrating, and observing. Now that the New Year is here, however, we need to reflect on the fact that there may be important long-term care questions that need to be answered. We would like to share five questions that we frequently encounter with our clients and their loved ones right here on our blog.  

1. Have you parents thought about long-term care planning? If you do not know, ask now. This question will give you information about whether your loved ones have taken any steps toward planning for their future or for their long-term care. Without your knowledge, they may have a complete plan already in place. On the other hand, they may have done zero planning. Also, in the alternative, they may have started long-term care planning years ago and the plan may need to be updated.


2. Are you aware of who they want to appoint to make medical decisions for them? Now we know this is not a typical holiday dinner conversation, but you need to 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 they would trust him or her to make medical decisions in line with their wishes? If there is, most importantly, have they completed their estate plan to give legal authority to this person to act? 

3. Who will handle their finances? As in the case above, if they become mentally or physically incapacitated, who would they want to pay their bills or hire a caregiver? What do they think should happen if their long-term care needs become so severe that they cannot care for themselves and they may need to enter a nursing home?  It is vital to have this conversation now while they have the capacity to talk about what they want, so a plan can be created that allows them to live the way they want to as they age.

4. Do you know the preference of your parents if they cannot stay alone?  Do they want 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 parents want to remain in their home, it may be necessary to make safety modifications or arrange for a caregiver. If they prefer assisted living, facilities should be visited and a plan for covering the cost discussed.

5. Do your parents know how they will pay for a nursing home if they need one? This last question is one of the most difficult questions to ask your parents but you have to  discuss finances with your parents.  Unfortunately, statistics show that more than half of Americans will eventually require nursing home care and the cost can be devastating. Assisting your parents in understanding that they may need to purchase long-term care insurance or create a trust for asset protection, which may allow them to qualify for Medicaid, can 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 long-term care plan to meet their future needs as the New Year begins here in Alabama.  We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.


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