Monday, July 28, 2008

Resources for sunset planning for aging parents

Category: Elder Law,

This question was asked on
What approach have you taken when faced with sunset planning for aging parent(s)?I am looking for information related to resources available for helping surviving children understand and execute their aging parent(s) wishes in the sunset years. Specifically, what resources did you turn to and/or what research did you do to determine the ideal solutions related to your aging or terminally ill parent(s) living conditions, medical benefits and options, estate planning, funeral arrangements, etc?

My reply:

When dealing with these issues, the family needs to consider a team of professionals to educate them on the options that will best meet your parents goals. There are a host of people out there who can help you, but their existence isn't always well known, and the type of care depends on your family’s needs. Speaking as an elder law attorney, I often work with and refer to various other professionals as needed. I have listed them below.

Note that the single most important thing is to find one of more of these professionals who you feel comfortable with who can be your trusted advisor and get you to other professionals as needed.

Elder Law Attorney - will advise you on what documents to have in place to give authority to execute the wishes, as well as how to structure assets to best pay for long term care (using private assets, long term care insurance, Medicaid) and the pros and cons of transferring assets.

Financial Planner - Where children may find themselves in the position of managing parents assets, it is critical that the assets be gathered and centrally located and the investments critically reviewed sooner rather than later. Consolidate investments to a single location, with on-line access for children to monitor. Make sure the investments are appropriate for the seniors age and income needs - many times we see seniors who have entered into investments that may not really be appropriate to their income needs.

Geriatric Care Manager - This is essentially a private social worker who can make an independent assessment of the seniors needs and create a plan of action to fulfill those needs in the reality of a family. They address the tough questions of if mom can live at home and what kind of assistance might be necessary to make that a reality, or what if they move in with a child or to a continuing care community or just senior community, as well as facilitate referrals to home care agencies, assisted living and nursing facilities and/or hospice.

Other professionals you may want to bring in:
  • Insurance Professional - Long Term Care insurance may be appropriate depending on the ages and needs.
  • Reverse Mortgage Specialist - To reach their goals, it make may sense to use the equity in the home.
  • Home Care Agency - These will provided nursing and companion care at home or at an assisted living or nursing home facility.
  • Realtor specializing in Seniors - He or she can maximize the value of the largest asset by addressing the marketing realities of a home that has likely been lived in and not updated for decades (cleanout, donation, upgrades, staging).
  • Therapist - Parenting your parents in hard. A qualified therapist can give family members tools to cope with emotional issues.
  • Accountant/Bookkeeper - Bill paying services and tax information.


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