May 12

Cuyahoga County Elder Law Attorney: Having THAT Conversation with an Elderly Parent

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Many of us are lucky enough to have our parents around long enough for them to know their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If you are one of the blessed, consider yourself lucky. There is one thing, however, that you may eventually have to face – a parent who should not live at home alone anymore.

As a Cuyahoga County elder law attorney, I highly recommend that you talk to your parents while they are still healthy and active. If you haven’t done so before an unforeseen circumstance forces you to confront the situation, it’s going to be far more difficult and likely cause you to experience far greater anxiety. There’s no need to sugar-coat this fact. Even if the elderly parent is perfectly amiable, there may still be a strong emotional reaction from the parent that comes with losing one’s independence. Hopefully, the guidance we can provide will ease that path.

If you don’t expect your parents to react well to the suggestion of moving out of their home, solicit help from others. If your parent has had an injury and you consider it appropriate, let their doctor know that it would be helpful if he or she brought up this sensitive subject during a visit. In some families, parents won’t hear you – perhaps because they still see you as their child – but they will listen to someone else even if you are both saying the same thing!

Then, there is the “m” word – if you don’t know your parents’ financial situation, now might be the time to begin to find out a little more. Even if your parents are able to maintain control over their financial affairs now, there is at least a possibility, if not a probability that they will need your help, or even that you will need to take over their finances at some time in the future. Approach the topic with the idea of preparedness. Tell them you’ve been been learning a lot about estate planning and the steps it appears families, including yours, should take, starting with looking at mom’s and dad’s financial affairs so that if one becomes incapacitated, someone that they know and love and trust can step in and manage things until the parent regains their health and the ability to take back the reins of control. It is always best to approach this conversation in a positive and supportive light.

Finally, one other way to encourage your parents to put their affairs in order is for you to set the example. Why not proceed now to create and put your own estate plan in place.  That way, your loved ones won’t be in financial chaos if something happens to you. The added bonus may be that it gives you a platform for having “the talk” with your parents.

Nearly every day we get calls from adult children who are bringing in a parent that needs help getting their healthcare and financial documents in order. We can tell you first hand that it is much easier for everyone if we can work together before a medical crisis has occurred, and before mom or dad loses the capacity to make their own decisions and execute estate planning documents.

Set a good example! Give us a call today and we’ll schedule a consultation so that you can discuss your planning needs and concerns. All of our estate planning here in Cuyahoga County is done on a flat-fee basis so there are no surprises.