If you’re caring for an elderly loved one, seeking guidance on care and estate planning for your family member are something that’s vital for peace of mind for your family. Although it’s best to have documentation and plans in place before a health crisis arises, it’s especially crucial if your family member’s health is declining, or they have a newly-diagnosed illness.
“It is extremely important to start having conversations with your loved ones before an event happens that triggers the need for long-term care. Making sure your wishes are known is the first step. The second step is making sure you have the necessary estate planning documents in place so that your wishes can be accomplished by those you’ve entrusted to make such decisions and arrangements,” explains Stephanie Thompson, owner and attorney at Krueger, Hernandez & Thompson SC.
There are many factors to consider when helping a loved one get their affairs in order. First, consider if you and other family members are struggling to meet an elderly loved one’s needs. Issues such as the following may mean you need legal expertise to guide you:
- There are long-term care cost concerns
- They are a veteran with health care issues
- The person has a chronic ailment or health decline
- Family members are confused or overwhelmed on how to make care decisions
- Your loved one has a spouse’s financial or health care needs to consider
- Your family member has experienced a catastrophic health event
- A caregiver is struggling with burnout
- The elderly person has been hospitalized
- There are care coordination concerns with multiple providers
- The family member is incapacitated
Thompson is the only attorney at the firm that focuses on long-term care planning, so concerns such as the above are ones that she guides family members through. These care concerns dovetail with the need for an estate plan, which spells out your loved one’s wishes for their care and their assets. Thompson encourages everyone to start these conversations now.
“Estate planning is for everyone … ask if an estate plan exists [and] when was it last looked at by an attorney who specializes in this area. It is important to know if your loved ones have long- term care insurance, which helps ease the financial burden of long-term care costs. Asking about finances can be delicate, but … transparency always makes things easier.”