Taking care of elderly parents can be challenging for family members.
It’s important to make sure you have your ducks in a row while your parents are young and healthy. This will make it easier to care for your loved ones as they age.
Let’s take a look at what you should prepare for when caring for your aging parents.
Healthcare matters checklist
The first thing on your mind should be making sure your parents have appropriate healthcare, especially as they get older.
These needs increase as people age, so it’s important to ensure they have appropriate health insurance that covers developing aches and conditions. In some cases, you may need to purchase long-term care insurance for them.
Maintaining their home’s safety as a secure living space is another item on the healthcare checklist. At some point, you may need to look into appropriate home care options as they decline in judgment and decision-making.
You could also choose to move mom and dad into an assisted living space with personal care that watches over their physical and mental health.
Conservatorship and Power of Attorney for Healthcare
To ensure your parents’ health care needs are met, you’ll need legal authority to assume this role when they are no longer able to. The legal document that gives you this authority is a healthcare power of attorney.
The power of attorney grants you access to conversations with your parent’s doctor about medical care and treatment. This provides the authority to choose what care your parents do and do not receive.
Your parents need to sign this document while they are mentally capable of signing away these rights.
If you wait too long, there’s a chance that mom and dad could develop dementia or Alzheimer’s that strips them of critical thinking. We recommend petitioning the court for a conservatorship in these cases to make decisions about their care.
Conservatorships can take 1-2 months to establish and require a judge’s permission. Signing power of attorney documents in advance can save time and effort in the long run.
Healthcare Legal Document Checklist
It’s also important to talk to your parents about what their intentions are for end-of-life care.
Do your parents want to be kept alive as long as possible? Or do they want to be made comfortable and pass in peace? While your parents are mentally capable, they should sign a living will laying out their wishes.
You should have documents for the durable healthcare power of attorney and the living will to care for the aging parent’s health. You can have a copy on file with your parent’s primary care physician and any other medical providers they regularly see.
Financial Matters Checklist
From having aging parents, you know they’re also prone to misuse finances, estates, and other family assets. It’s crucial to understand the financial burden involved with elder care and how to assume responsibilities in managing their money.
They may have already missed credit card payments or been manipulated by an abuser to donate money to unknown causes.
Your parents are vulnerable to manipulation and persuasion from harmful parties, leaving them at risk of diminishing their checking and savings. Aggressors can be crafty and steal social security numbers from older adults without their knowledge.
As a part of the financial checklist, we always recommend gaining legal authority to monitor and protect their finances.
Conservatorship and Power of Attorney for Finances
As with healthcare matters, it’s possible to establish a conservatorship to ensure you have the legal right to make decisions about your aging parent’s financial affairs if they become mentally incapacitated.
But it’s much easier to put a durable power of attorney in place while your parents are mentally capable.
This document will let you use your parents’ funds to pay their bills, including the mortgage and doctor’s bills while they’re alive. You’ll be able to make decisions about their accounts and investments.
However, these aren’t your funds for your personal use. Instead, the person with power of attorney needs to act with the best interests of their parents in mind.
Property Distribution Checklist
Finally, you’ll need to consider how your parents want their property distributed after they die as a part of senior care.
If your parents die without a will or trust, California elder law distributes their property to their relatives based on the closeness of their relationship. This can be a complicated and difficult process.
It’s much easier to put estate planning documents into place, including a will and/or a living trust. They are used for distributing property after death.
Financial Document Checklist
To manage your aging parent’s finances, an attorney will require a durable power of attorney, a will (after they pass), and a living trust (after they pass). These documents should be kept in a safe, but obvious, place, making it easier for families to take care of these matters.
We Can Help Care for Aging Parents
Adult children should have ongoing conversations with their parents to discuss their needs and wishes for the end of their life. To help you prepare these documents and understand your options, you can work with experienced estate planning attorneys.