Talking With Your Aging Loved Ones About Estate Planning and Other Concerns
As your loved ones age, they focus increased attention on specific concerns about their well-being and the future. You can provide substantial, meaningful support by talking with your aging loved ones about estate planning for seniors and other critical concerns. To make those conversations less awkward to initiate and carry out, our attorneys at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia offer helpful guidance.
Common Senior Concerns
Before you talk with your aging loved ones, it’s important to understand the common concerns that many seniors share. While each situation is unique, there are certain issues that are prevalent.
Financial concerns are one of the most important matters for aging seniors. The subject covers a wide range of specific issues, including paying for long-term or nursing home care and preserving assets to the greatest extent possible to avoid running out of money. Additional concerns include potential exposure to fraud or financial abuse and making certain that finances are properly managed in the event of temporary or permanent inability to manage their finances themselves.
Health and Well-Being
Health and medical concerns are just as important as financial concerns for many aging individuals. The issues vary in individual circumstances, but most seniors are particularly focused on potential cognitive and mental decline, in addition to physical limitations.
For some aging adults, loneliness, and isolation can be a critical concern that significantly affects their well-being. The nature and extent of these aspects of a senior’s life depend largely on their living situation.
Many seniors worry about transferring their legacy, including the family home, to the next generation. Family situations may raise specific concerns in this regard.
What To Keep In Mind
When you talk with your loved one, you should focus initially on identifying exactly what concerns are most important to them. Being patient and listening attentively is essential, particularly because many seniors are reluctant to discuss their innermost feelings about their future.
Your aging loved one’s foremost concerns probably relate to their own well-being, rather than to what happens after they pass away. In many situations, approaching the subject from the standpoint of your own need to ensure that you understand their concerns, needs, and goals, is a good starting point. You can explain that you want to help make certain they have the best available support and resources. Discussing death and what happens to their money after they die is usually not a good way to begin these meaningful discussions.
You should not try to cover everything in one long, intense conversation. Breaking the discussion down into smaller segments is better for you and for your loved one. Find some quiet time in a space that is comfortable for both of you. The dinner table is usually not the best place or time to raise these matters.
Throughout your conversations, keep in mind that professionals are available to help you and your loved one navigate the future. A sound, thoughtful estate plan can address many senior concerns and provide peace of mind for your loved one. Estate planning for seniors — particularly with the help of an attorney experienced in elder law — like our attorneys at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia — is very different from estate planning for individuals who are in their early and middle adult years.
An elder law attorney can help your aging loved one navigate many of their concerns and fully understand the sensitivity and importance of your loved one’s worries. Often, you can encourage your loved one to ask for professional help by explaining that a lawyer can help them put essential legal documents in place to protect them and their finances for the future.
Importance of Legal Documents
Regardless of what specific concerns your aging loved one has, an important goal of your discussions should be to make certain they have essential legal documents in place to protect them and their finances.
A primary focus of estate planning for seniors is putting in place protection against potential incapacity. An advance directive and durable financial power of attorney are necessary to authorize another person to make personal, medical, and financial decisions in the event of temporary incapacity. Without those legal documents, family members likely will have to go to court to get the legal authority to make those decisions. In your conversations with your loved one, find out if they have either or both of those documents. Make sure the documents are in a secure location and that you know how to find them if they are needed.
If your aging loved one does not have these essential documents — or the documents are outdated — you can use that fact as the reason to encourage them to talk with an elder law and estate planning attorney. The attorney can also help them put legal documents in place to guard against fraud and other financial abuse, in addition to helping them ensure their legacy passes along to the next generation in exactly the manner they wish.
You should never encourage or allow your aging loved ones to attempt to put legal documents in place without help from a qualified professional. Do-it-yourself legal documents pose substantial risks for your loved one and their legacy and often do not accomplish the desired purposes.
Talk With Our Georgia Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys
In our Cartersville practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, our dedicated elder law attorneys help seniors and their families address all the unique needs of your aging loved ones. Estate planning, nursing home care planning, and Medicaid planning are important parts of our services. We provide elder law and planning services to clients throughout the communities northwest of Atlanta, including Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County, and Paulding County. Call us at (770) 382-0984 or contact us through our online form.