Care for ag­ing par­ents

The Covington News - - BUSINESS -

If you share much of your adult life with your par­ents, con­sider your­self for­tu­nate. As they age, how­ever, you will need to be­come in­creas­ingly aware of added re­spon­si­bil­i­ties you may have to as­sume. By plan­ning ahead, you can help make ev­ery­one’s life eas­ier.

In deal­ing with var­i­ous mat­ters re­lat­ing to your par­ents — par­tic­u­larly fi­nan­cial mat­ters — the key is open and fre­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion. And that means you’ll need to find out ev­ery­thing you can about your par­ents’ as­sets, debts and es­tate plans.

You can start by find­ing out if your par­ents have a sim­ple will drawn up. If they don’t, urge them to get one. Your par­ents have worked hard all their lives, and they’ll want their as­sets dis­trib­uted ac­cord­ing to their wishes in­stead of a court’s de­cree, which is what will hap­pen if they die “in­tes­tate” (with­out a will). Even if your par­ents have a sim­ple will, they may still need to take fur­ther ac­tion. If you think they have a siz­able es­tate or want to give sig­nif­i­cant gifts to char­i­ta­ble groups, en­cour­age them to con­sult with an at­tor­ney who spe­cial­izes in es­tate plan­ning.

You’ll also need to learn what­ever you can about your par­ents’ sav­ings and in­vest­ments. Which banks and fi­nan­cial ser­vice providers hold your par­ents’ as­sets? Where are the records of th­ese ac­counts? Do they work with a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor? You’ll need to learn th­ese things in case your par­ents be­come in­ca­pac­i­tated or die un­ex­pect­edly. State trea­surer’s of­fices reg­u­larly ad­ver­tise “un­claimed” prop­erty, in­clud­ing in­vest­ments — some of which have sim­ply eluded the at­ten­tion of fam­ily mem­bers.

And, speak­ing of in­ca­pac­i­ta­tion, you may want to en­cour­age your par­ents to cre­ate a durable gen­eral power of at­tor­ney, which al­lows them to ap­point an­other per­son to con­duct their busi­ness af­fairs if they are phys­i­cally or men­tally un­able to man­age them your­self. You can also ease some po­ten­tial wor­ries by hav­ing your par­ents cre­ate a med­i­cal power of at­tor­ney, which em­pow­ers you (or an­other rel­a­tive or close friend) to make health care de­ci­sions for your par­ents if they are se­ri­ously in­jured or be­come ill and can­not make health care de­ci­sions on their own.

Long-term care is an­other sub­ject you might want to dis­cuss with your par­ents. Of course, they may never need to en­ter a nurs­ing home or re­quire the ser­vices of a home health care worker. How­ever, if they do, the ex­penses can be enor­mous. For ex­am­ple, the av­er­age an­nual cost of a private room in a nurs­ing home is more than $75,000, ac­cord­ing to the 2006 an­nual MetLife Mar­ket Sur­vey of Nurs­ing Home & Home Care.

If your par­ents needed to come up with this amount, it could wipe out their fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence — and pos­si­bly place a bur­den on you or other fam­ily mem­bers. Cur­rently, Med­i­caid pays al­most half the costs of long-term care, but, to qual­ify for this gov­ern­ment pro­gram, your par­ents would have to “spend down” al­most all their as­sets — an unattrac­tive prospect. Con­se­quently, you may want to talk to your par­ents about other ways of pay­ing for th­ese costs.

Start dis­cussing th­ese types of is­sues with your par­ents soon. As you can see, there’s a lot of ground to cover, and the sooner you start, the bet­ter.

Rick Rogers

In­vest­ment Rep­re­sen­ta­tive

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