This is the third post in our series about estate planning and advance care. The first post is about how to get the conversation started with your parents in relation to their estate planning and advance care needs. The second post discusses the specific estate planning documents and plans your parents might need.
People are living longer than ever. But, although lifespan has increased, quality of life has not necessarily done the same. Longer life can mean an increased need for long-term care, such as assisted living and nursing home care.
However, both assisted living and nursing home care can be very expensive. Even taking on the task of caring for your aging parents yourself may not save costs, as full-time care for an aging parent could require you to reduce your work hours or even leave your job. Furthermore, many adult children end up paying for health care and medication needs in addition to providing care for their aging parents.
The costs of the above can be significant, so it is therefore critical to have a family meeting to discuss who will provide care for your parents and how costs will be managed. Before you sit down with your parents, you should do some preparation. Make a brief agenda, keep it informal, and prepare the questions you need to ask.
Some important points you should include in your agenda are:
- What are your parents’ wishes for care? Are they opposed to spending their final days in a nursing home or assisted living facility? Would they prefer to remain at home?
- What are their health histories? In particular, what genetic or other long-term conditions may they have suffered? Do they have a history of injury or trauma? What have any of their relatives been affected by?
- What facilities are available at home? Most people prefer to live at home, but you can often spend a lot of time renovating or putting in new facilities, which then do not remain in use for very long.
- Where do most of their friends live? Do they have relatives and friends living in their local area? Our advice is normally to stay local. As their child, you will be among the most important people in their lives, and as far as possible you should make arrangements to keep them near you and your children.
- If they do move into a nursing home or assisted living facility, where would they like that to be? How close to their family and friends would they need to be living?
- What are their funeral wishes? Have they made any financial arrangements for their funerals?
Although it may be uncomfortable, this conversation is necessary to ensure that everybody is on the same page and to reduce the likelihood of a disagreement/dispute occurring if one of your parents does lose mental capacity and can no longer make decisions about their advance care and estate planning needs.
It is crucial to talk to your parents while they are still healthy about what their wishes would be if these things happen, because they will be unable to tell you what they want once they become incapacitated. If you wait to have this conversation, it may be too late.
Stay tuned for the rest of our estate planning and advanced care series!
If you have any enquiries about estate planning and advance care, contact Greg Martin of our office on 02 9687 9322.