As our parents age, it becomes increasingly likely that we will have to take on the role of parent to them. This can be a difficult and emotional time, as we may have to make decisions about their health and finances, and navigate the challenges that come with caring for an aging parent. Here are three steps to help you through this process:

  1. Have a talk and make a plan. It's important to have open and honest conversations with your parents about their wishes for their health and finances. You should ask them who they want to make health decisions for them in the event that they are unable to make those decisions themselves. This might be their spouse, a particular child, or someone else. It's also important to discuss who will handle their finances if they become unable to do so themselves. It's a good idea to make sure that the person chosen is aware of this responsibility and is comfortable with it.

  2. Figure out the finances. Knowing what your parents' finances look like is crucial in order to create a budget and plan for their care. If they are not comfortable discussing their finances with you, they may be willing to let you talk to their financial planner, who can give you an idea of what their assets and income are. It's also a good idea to consider obtaining a power of attorney, as this will allow you to work with their bank or financial planner and ensure that you are speaking with the right person.

  3. Take care of your own mental health. Caring for an aging parent can be stressful and overwhelming, and it's important to take care of your own mental health during this process. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if you need it. It can also be helpful to join a support group or seek guidance from a professional caregiver.

In addition to these steps, there are a few other things to consider when taking on the role of parent to your parents:

  • Consider their living situation. If your parents are no longer able to live independently, you may need to consider alternative living arrangements. This could involve moving them into your home, finding an assisted living facility, or hiring in-home care. It's important to consider their preferences and needs when making this decision.

  • Be prepared for medical expenses. As our parents age, they may incur significant medical expenses. It's important to be aware of what their insurance covers and to plan for any out-of-pocket expenses that may arise.

  • Communicate with your siblings. If you have siblings, it's important to communicate with them about your parents' care and to work together to support your parents. This can help to avoid conflict and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Caring for our aging parents can be a challenging and emotional experience, but it's also an opportunity to show them love and support in their time of need. By following these steps and seeking support when needed, you can help to make the process a little easier for both you and your parents.

Do You Need an Estate Plan?

If you don't already have an estate plan, or if you have one that needs to be updated, let's schedule a Legal Strategy Session online or by calling my Edina, Minnesota office at (612) 294-6982 or my New York City office at (646) 847-3560. My office will be happy to find a convenient time for us to have a phone call to review the best options and next steps for you to work with an estate planning attorney to get your estate plan prepared.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.