No, we are not talking about the birds and the bees and how to have a conversation with your young son or daughter. We are talking about the conversation with your parents as they age and what are their wishes in regards to caregiving, long-term care, death, and the planning associated with it. Most families shy away from these conversations and essentially treat them as faux pas conversations and avoid them at all costs. While avoiding the conversation can make it seem like it’s going away and make it seem like everything is okay inevitably that decision will blow up and will become a very painful situation for those involved.
As an estate planning and elder law attorney, I cannot begin to tell you how many families avoided this conversation with their parents and regretted it later. I have never had a family come back to me after I have suggested that they sit down and have “The Talk” and told me that they regretted it and wished they would’ve waited. They all say that it was great to get everything out on the table.
Most parents don’t talk about it with their children mainly because they don’t think that their children want to discuss it. We often hear parents saying that my kid clams up or my kid gets very nervous and just doesn’t want to talk about me or my spouse dying. Therefore it’s easier just not to have the conversation. Believe it or not, most parents are open to having the conversation because they are dealing with it on a daily basis and they understand that it’s better to have the conversation or at least to think about it ahead of time.
Our advice is to try to start the conversation to understand what your parent’s wishes are for their golden years. Where do they want to live as they age? Do they have an idea as to how they would like to be treated if they were ever to be in an end-of-life situation? Where would they like to be buried? Do they have their financial affairs in order and do they have professionals that they are working with that you could contact if something happened to them? What is going to happen when if they have to go into a nursing home how can you assist them with their planning? What happens when they die?
These are often great conversation starters. An estate planning and elder law attorney could also assist you with filling in the details and understanding how to put these answers in legal documents to make them binding in the future. Don’t underestimate having your parents go to a workshop on estate planning and elder law, it will get them thinking and may also provide the opportunity for the conversation to occur.
The holidays and times that families together often end up being the time that people get to discuss these topics and we encourage that you have “The Talk” not only for your parents but for you and your family as well. As much as your parents will thank you for wanting to have the discussion to figure all of the information out you will also be relieved to know that they have thought a lot about it and have a lot of strong opinions and beliefs and now you know that you can carry out their wishes. One thing that I have found is that people always want to do what’s best for mom and dad and oftentimes want to do what mom and dad intended. If you have had the conversation and have documents in place everyone will be on the same page and no one has to speculate or argue about what was intended.
If you are interested in learning more about Medicaid crisis planning, please call our office at 717-845-5390, or click here to RSVP to our upcoming workshops.