As you age, there may come a time when you are going to rely on your children for some type of assistance. For most, it is not a question of “if”, but more like “when”. Many times it comes at an unexpected time as well. NPR recently had an article about Preparing For A Future That Includes Aging Parents, but what if you are the aging parent? Are you doing what it takes now so that you can avoid burdening your children?
Setting Up The Legal Stuff
First, there are a lot of legal things to think about when planning for the future. It is essential that you have a basic estate plan setup to make sure that your wishes can be executed should anything happen to you.
To start, you need at least a will and a trust. If you want one of your children to be the main caretaker, you should name them as the executor of the trust. If you have concerns about how decisions are going to be made, you can clearly state how, when, and by what means decisions should be made. If you have multiple children, you can even get complicated and setup voting or other rules for decisions.
Second, you need to make sure that you have a power of attorney setup. For most, your spouse will be the main power of attorney. However, it makes sense to have your children be secondary, should something happen to your spouse. That way, your children can make decisions for you as needed. This will eliminate the burden of jumping through legal hoops should something happen to you where medical or financial decisions need to be made. This especially helps if any decisions need to be made quickly.
Making Sure You’re Financially Prepared
After you have the legal documents set up, you need to make sure that you are financially prepared for your future, to make sure that you don’t become a financial burden to your children. This includes making sure that you have enough insurance to meet your financial obligations.
You should consider having life insurance to take care of your spouse if needed, and handle any end of life expenses that your estate may not be able to cover. Make sure to get a large enough plan to cover your income so that your spouse won’t be financially impacted. This is also a good idea if you want to pay off any remaining debts, or want to leave something to your children.
You should also consider looking at long term care insurance. Many people will need to get some type of long term care as they age. This could be minor once-a-week at home check-ins, all the way to full nursing care or even hospice care. This type of care can be very expensive, upwards of $100,000 per year. Unless you are extremely wealthy, many individuals and families can’t easily afford these costs. That is why getting a long term care insurance plan that provides enough to cover any potential needs makes a lot of sense.
Plus, if you combine this with an Advanced Health Care Directive, you can make sure that your children have the tools they need to care for you in later life, and that way you won’t burden them should the unexpected come up. They will already have the documents and money in place to help.
Talking About It
Finally, it is essential that you communicate your plans to your children so that they know exactly what you want and what they should expect. This means laying it out there about what you future and end of life plans really are. This can be a difficult conversation, but when the time comes, your children will be glad you had it.
During this conversation, make sure that you clearly explain where all the necessary documents are (such as the power of attorney and advanced health care directive) as well as the contacts for any insurance plans. That way, if needed, your children can act on your behalf when it comes to handling your care and dealing with the insurance company. It will also help to make sure your children act on your wishes, and don’t have to make uncomfortable decisions themselves.