By: Ross Biesinger
Nobody wants to think about it. We’ve become comfortable with the idea that our parents are the ones that take care of us, not the other way around. But when you start to see signs that your parents are getting to the end of their lives, it’s time to have an honest conversation about financial planning. After all, sooner or later you will likely be the one responsible for them or the estate they leave behind, and the negative consequences of not having things in order will fall on you, not them.
Even if your parents are still mentally and physically capable, it’s time for you to step in and make sure they are prepared for their later years. Although conversations with parents about money can be difficult—and even awkward— it’s important to have them, especially if you’ll be their primary financial caretaker as they get older. Here are some legal and financial considerations to help the conversation along.
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. Almost 40 years after his death, the family of Jimi Hendrix was still going to court to fight it out.
While you may consider your family above such squabbles, it’s better not to even test it. 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 clearly 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.
If your mom is over 65, there’s a 58% chance that she will need long-term care at some point, and on average that would be about 2½ years of care. For your dad, there’s a 47% chance that he will need long-term care.(1) 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 in old age. 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 to.
One out of three Americans over age 85 have Alzheimer’s disease. 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?
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.
While it is important to have all 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 at the end 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 parent's age, it is 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 on a regular basis 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.
Financial planning for aging parents isn’t easy. It can require uncomfortable conversations and tough decisions. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Working with an experienced financial professional, someone who knows the ins and outs of latter-year planning, makes all the difference. We at Cypress Wealth Services would love to be a neutral third party to guide you in these emotional family discussions. If you would like help planning for your parents, contact one of our offices today.
About Cypress Wealth Services
Cypress Wealth Services is an independent RIA firm providing financial planning and investment management to high net worth individuals, families, business owners, and institutions. Cypress Wealth Services comprises professionals with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience and qualifications. Cypress Wealth Services is uniquely qualified to serve a broad range of client needs, and their experience and expertise act as a foundation for their client service process. The firm uses The Second Growth, which focuses on efficiently protecting, growing, and transferring to their loved ones the wealth and legacy a person has already built. With offices in Palm Desert, CA, Tustin, CA, and Anchorage, AK, the firm serves clients across the country in Wealth Management Services, Fiduciary Services, 401(k) Design and Management, Investment Reporting Services, Financial and Retirement Planning, and more. For more information, visit www.CypressWS.com or call 760.834.7250