We’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, which I hope was a special time for you if got to spend it with family.
For some people this is the time when we wind down towards the end of the year. However, it is always a busy time of year for us at Sechler Law Firm. This is because when families get together, after having not seen one another for some time, family members may notice when an elderly parent is slipping from a physical or cognitive standpoint. We often get calls after Thanksgiving, where adult children phone to say they’ve noticed a decline in their elderly mom or dad’s health, and they ask us for advice.
What You Should Do When You Realize Mom or Dad is Slipping…
- Don’t hide from the uncomfortable conversations, or deny there could be a problem. Ignoring it could result in an elderly parent becoming incapacitated, and unable to take care of themselves requiring urgent intervention from the family. If Mom or Dad did not communicate their wishes regarding healthcare or if they had not named somebody else to make legal and financial decisions on their behalf, it becomes complicated.
- It is difficult having these conversations with elderly parents, but we suggest that you broach the subject gently. Elderly people are often not willing to accept they need help, even if they realize they do need it, and value their independence. When you talk to Mom and Dad, make it sound like you want to help them by having a plan in place, to avoid the stress if they become incapacitated as a result of a stroke. You can base this on what you have heard has happened to other families without planning. Rather than refer to the fact that mom or dad may have dementia, we suggest talking about how a stroke can render somebody to be incapacitated, and not planning, complicates the problem.
- Suggest to mom and dad that you could all go together to get a plan put in place, so that you know their wishes and you need to act on their behalf if they do become incapacitated. It is important that mom and dad understand what needs to be done and can sign documents giving Power of Attorney to the adult child who will be the agent.
- If dementia is a concern, you could certainly consider getting medication to allow mom or dad a better quality of life and prolong the onset of Alzheimer’s, if this is an option.
What Documents You Need
When you come to our workshops, we talk about all the aspects of planning, but one of the most important documents you should consider is a Durable Power of Attorney. This document allows the transfer of decision making and control, and is effective from the date the person signs it. It remains effective if the person were to become incapacitated at a later stage. This also allows the agent for the Power of Attorney to gradually take over helping mom or dad by doing the things they can no longer manage.
The less favored Springing Power of Attorney document is only effective when the person no longer has capacity. The problem with this, is that most seniors will not admit when they need help or have capacity issues. We will always recommend you get the Durable Power of Attorney document.
I Already Have a Power of Attorney Document. Is it Valid?
If you have a Power of Attorney document, we encourage you to read it to determine whether it needs to be updated. A law change in 2015 created certain provisions in Power of Attorney documents, and they now have to be worded in a particular way. One of the key provisions is the authority to do gifting. In our office we do crisis cases, where mom is in a skilled nursing facility, costing $15,000 per month in Pennsylvania, which has become a financial problem. Usually the agent under the Power of Attorney approaches us to find out how we can help them to stretch mom’s money, to pay for her care. They also need to know how the money will provide for dad, who is still living in their home. This is what is known as Medicaid Crisis Planning.
We help families to become eligible for Medicaid to pay for care in a nursing home, and to avoid going broke. Please reach out to us, or seek the help of an elder law attorney, because this planning is complicated. You can reach out to us at 724 546 4227. We offer a free consultation so we can learn how best to help you.
How Sechler Law Firm Helps You to Protect Assets with your POA document
We can help transfer assets from mom who is in the nursing home, to dad or the kids. There are various strategies we use to protect assets, depending on each unique situation. To transfer assets from mom to a family member, we need the authority to do this. This authority is outlined in the Power of Attorney document. The difference between keeping the home or losing it, might be as simple as putting the home in dad’s name. If you do not have provision for unlimited gifting, you will need to update the Power of Attorney documents.
You Need to Have that Conversation…
More than having a Power of Attorney document, it is important for adult children to communicate with their elderly parents. Having conversations regarding the type of care their parents want while the parents have capacity, is encouraged. For some families, an adult child may be able to provide care for mom and dad in their own home. However, it is not always possible for the family to fill the role of caregiver. If this is the case, it should be discussed as a family. It is important to talk about how the family will pay for the care should the need arise. At least the family can plan and make provision for this ahead of time.
We Share Valuable Information at Our Workshops… Please Join Us
We urge you to come to one of our workshops, where we will explain the technical stuff. We talk about Wills, Trusts, Taxes and how to protect assets. Essentially these documents are tools, and we explain how each works. Based on your situation, we will look at which tools would be right for you. It is important for you to understand how these tools work, before we implement them. Click HERE to register for a workshop. We also offer a Life Care Plan for elderly parents, to address any concerns you may have. We have a Social Worker on our team, Megan who has many years experience working with the elderly. Megan is instrumental in assisting with the Life Care Plan, so schedule a Life Care Planning Consultation with us today. Call 724 546 4227 or visit our Website.
You might be keen to watch the YouTube Video related to this blog article, which you can do HERE.