We all expect it to happen eventually—our parents getting older. Not just older chronologically, but physically and mentally older as well. It’s a difficult and sometimes painful process to realize that our parents are in fact aging. With each passing year, your parents, too, may be showing more obvious signs of time gone by. Even the spryest of spry eventually start to slow down and need more help than they did before.
Sometimes it happens slowly and you have time to adjust to your new reversed role as the caregiver. When you visit, you notice they are not keeping up with their normal routines, they may need more help around the house, or help managing their checkbook and bills. And other times, the caregiver role reversal is thrust upon you suddenly and unexpectedly due to an illness or accident which can cause much stress and concern for your parents’ well being. When these turns of events happen, there may also come a time when your parents will need more care than you can provide on your own. They may need in-home care, an assisted living facility, or even a nursing home. The good news is you can help them plan now for these eventual needs and help them prepare for this next stage in life when the time comes.
Set up an appointment for them to meet with a qualified estate planning attorney, one who focuses their practice in that area. That attorney can help your parents with a comprehensive estate plan, including a Revocable Living Trust, Pourover Will, Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and “HIPAA” Authorization Form.
A Revocable Living Trust will hold your parents property and facilitate your management, as successor Trustee, of that property in the event of their disability. Similarly, as “Agent” under your parents’ Financial Powers of Attorney, you can manage any assets which are outside their Trust, file their income tax return, etc. Their Trust and Financial Power of Attorney should contain “Medicaid triggers” which allow you, as their decision-maker, to engage in planning strategies which will enable them to qualify for Long-Term Care Medicaid for nursing home care. That way, their assets may not have to be exhausted on medical bills and nursing home costs and can be retained instead to provide them a better life.
Health Care Powers of Attorney enable you, as their Agent, to make medical decisions for them if they are unable to make them for themselves. A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or “HIPAA” Authorization Form allows for you and others to have access to your parents’ protected health care information, when needed.
If the time comes that one of your parents need care in a nursing home, you’ll have the tools you need to help facilitate that. At that time, of course, you’ll want to choose a facility carefully. Consider the following factors: proximity to you and other family members, the ratio of nursing staff to residents, the facility’s safety and overall ratings, etc. You can find a listing of nursing homes in your area and their ratings and ratios at: www.Medicare.gov/NHcompare.
If you plan now, you and your parents will be ready whatever the future might bring. A qualified estate planning attorney can help tailor a plan to your parents’ unique needs.
Tab Artis is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and has been engaged in the practice of law for the last fourteen years. For more information or to attend an upcoming seminar, click HERE to be directed to The Artis Law Firm’s Workshops page.