What do you do when the tables turn and your parents now need you to take care of them? On top of the emotions of seeing a parent age or decline in health, this role reversal often leaves you responsible for your parents’ finances and estate. It’s in these circumstances that you realize the importance of having a plan, as the negative consequences of not having things in order will fall on you, not them.
Even if your parents are currently mentally and physically capable, it is time for you to step in and make sure they are prepared for the latter years of their lives. Here are some financial considerations where advanced planning can make a world of difference for everyone involved.
Is Their Will Up To Date?
There is always some story in the news about a celebrity who has died without a will and the raucous legal battle that ensues as their relatives and business partners vie for a piece of their estate. Case in point: The battle over Jimi Hendrix’s estate continues to this day (more than 50 years later!) all because he had no will.
While you may consider your family above such squabbles, it’s better not to test that assumption. You never know how large amounts of money will affect people and their behavior. It is important for your parents to have a will that spells out their final wishes, including who will carry out those wishes as the executor of their estate.
This is especially important in situations with blended families. It’s all too common for a will to never be updated and leave an ex-wife as the sole inheritor or executor of an estate. Not only do your parents need a will, but they also need to make sure it is updated to reflect their current situation and desired legacy.
The importance of double-checking beneficiary designations goes beyond just a will. Make sure your parents have gone through all of their accounts, including life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other savings and verified that their listed beneficiaries are correct.
If your parents are at least age 65, there’s a nearly 70% chance that they’ll need long-term care at some point, and on average, that would be about 2.2 years of care for men and 3.7 years for women. Those numbers are high and need to be taken seriously.
Your whole family needs to come together to develop a plan for caring for your parents when the time comes. Discuss topics such as: Who will provide care for them? Who will pay for the care? Does it make sense for them to purchase long-term care insurance?
All too often, the most responsible or only local son or daughter ends up shouldering the entire burden. This leads to burnout and resentment toward the other siblings. Save your family the trouble and be proactive to come up with a plan that everyone can agree on.
About 1 in 9 people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s. There’s a good chance that a time will come when at least one of your parents is no longer able to make decisions for himself or herself. Who is going to make decisions for them at that point, both financial and medical?
While this can be an uncomfortable conversation, don’t avoid it. This is something you need to discuss with your parents and get the proper legal documents in place before they become incapacitated. Having simple power of attorneys written up will save you the trouble of going to court to request the right to help your parents when they need it most. And if your parents are comfortable with it, you should consider having one or more of their kids added to a bill-paying account. This way, if an emergency situation arises, they can access cash reserves to pay bills and debt payments immediately instead of waiting for assets to be released or legal documents to be enacted.
While it is important to have all of the proper legal documents in place and have a plan for how to take care of your parents when they can no longer take care of themselves, for most people, their biggest regret is simply that they didn’t have more time with their parents.
We all know that our time here on earth is limited, so we need to make the most of it. As you watch your parents age, it’s a visual reminder that your time with them is coming to an end. Consider creating a routine to make sure you spend time with them frequently while you still can.
Can you make a standing date for breakfast on Fridays or a phone call on Sunday afternoons? Carving time out of your busy schedule for your parents is one of the very best ways to prepare for these final years of their lives.
It can be overwhelming to think about writing a will, planning care, and making these critical decisions, especially with all the emotions involved. Sometimes parents aren’t receptive to these discussions with their kids, the kids who at one time needed them to take care of their every need.
In these situations, it can be very helpful to work with an experienced financial professional, someone who knows the ins and outs of legacy planning and can be a neutral third party in emotional family discussions. If you need help with your legacy planning, contact Comprehensive Advisor at info@ComprehensiveAdvisor.com or call (760) 813-2125.
Brett Gottlieb is the founder of Comprehensive Advisor and a financial advisor with nearly two decades of industry experience. He graduated from California State University-Chico with two bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Economics. Brett is Life Insurance licensed in several states. He is passionate about guiding his clients on retirement income planning, helping each client pursue their specific retirement goals and defending the assets his clients have worked so hard to achieve. Brett is a California native and currently resides in San Elijo Hills with his beautiful wife and three children.
With a combined experience of over three decades in the financial services industry, our advisors hail from some of the largest independent broker/dealers and banking institutions in the country. They have dedicated their professional careers to creating personalized financial solutions for individuals and families who seek successful retirement planning and currently offer investment advisory services through AE Wealth Management, LLC. Our advisors take a common-sense approach to the planning process and work with clients to create a retirement road map to help ensure their assets are protected and they receive the income needed to enjoy their future. Based in Carlsbad, California, they work with clients throughout San Diego County and beyond. Learn more by connecting with Brett on LinkedIn or email them at info@ComprehensiveAdvisor.com.
Investment advisory services made available through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Comprehensive Advisor are not affiliated companies. C.A. Financial & Insurance Services, CA Ins. Lic. #6000262. This material is intended to provide general information and is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Neither the firm nor its representatives may give tax or legal advice. Any references to protection benefits, safety, security, lifetime income, etc. generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Insurance and annuity product guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. 1440114-08/22
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