Most people are uncomfortable talking about death, whether it’s the type of care we want to receive while we are alive, or plans for what should happen after we die. Either way, we just don’t like to talk about the end of our life, or even worse, the end of an elderly parent’s life. As Orange County elder lawyers, we hear these concerns quite often in our office.
But by not discussing these issues, we leave our future caregivers – who are usually adult children – in an extremely difficult position. It’s no wonder why most people are taken completely off-guard when their elderly parents start to decline, leaving caregivers unprepared for the life changes that are about to happen.
The good news is that there are ways to make sure everyone is on the same page and that caregiving roles are as clear and easy as possible, if and when the time comes. By having the information, authority, and legal documents you need ready in advance, you can make sure everyone knows exactly what to do when end-of-life issues arise. Here are some other ways you can prepare:
- Both parties – the caregiver and the person who will receive care – need to make time to sit down and talk about their concerns. Ideally, this conversation will happen long before the elderly parent starts to decline and experiences issues like memory loss. You’ll want to discuss your parent’s health issues, financial details, and the kind of medical intervention they want at the end.
- Work with an estate planning attorney to prepare estate planning and designation documents. You should do this immediately if your parent begins to show signs of cognitive or physical decline. If you wait too long after your parent shows signs of mental decline, it’s very possible that they’ll be declared incompetent. In this case, they will not legally be allowed to make their own decisions and will not be able to sign any new estate planning documents.
- Review your parent’s financial statements and get an understanding of their income and expenses. Having this information will be critical to handling their affairs once they become incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle their own financial affairs.
- Review the options and determine what kind of living situations your parent is comfortable with before you need to make a decision on their behalf. You can help them determine their preferences for hospital care, rehab or nursing home care, and assisted living facilities.
If you have any questions about making an estate plan to handle end-of-life issues, or if you’d like to have your current estate plan reviewed to make sure it still fits your situation, please call us at (800) 244-8814 to set up an initial consultation.