As your parents age, it is normal to take on greater responsibility to care for them. If you have concerns about how to help your aging parents manage their resources and stay on top of their obligations, you're not alone. It is wise to consider the primary difficulties your parents may face, and then you can search for viable solutions.
Without a comprehensive approach to elder care and planning, your parents may see their quality of life decline sharply, or may find themselves at risk of sub-par health care. As an adult child stepping up to help your parents transition in this important season, you have a great opportunity to love and care for your parents in very special way, and this comes with a certain degree of risk. If you do not fully understand all the issues at hand, you may miss important benefits and protections for your parents.
Planning to preserve assets
If your parents have yet to assemble an estate plan, your family may risk losing a significant portion of the estate assets to creditors or taxation in the probate process. While estate planning does not always protect all assets from probate, a comprehensive plan, including trusts and other estate planning tools, can go a long way toward preserving assets and ensuring that your parents' needs are met.
First, your parents should make their wishes known through a will, and secondly they should establish any asset management or protection tools that may help them achieve their goals.
Planning for long-term medical care
Depending on their health and the size of their estate, your parents may require government assistance to afford medical care. This is not limited to economically disadvantaged individuals. Considering the ballooning costs of health care, even those with significant assets could see them drained quickly without some form of government assistance.
These assistance programs, including Medicaid, often include fairly modest income limitations for those who qualify. With some careful thought and planning, you and your parents may find success using special trusts designed to help those in just this situation.
The best time to begin was yesterday
No matter how old your parents are or how actively they live their lives, they will probably need help in these areas sooner or later. If you are not sure what their plans for the future include, it is wise to start with a simple conversation. Even if your parents are relatively young, the sooner you begin having these conversations and planning for the future, the better.
It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to understand the scope of your parents' needs and the options you have available. An experienced legal professional can guide you through the many complex issues involved in elder law and estate planning.