Your Family: Advance Elderly Planning

The Morning Show

Sheryl Bautch from the Family Service of Champaign County joins the Morning Show and in this week’s Your Family, she is discussing advance planning with senior family members.

Many seniors and their families fail to discuss and plan for the time when the senior may lose the ability to live independently or to make decisions regarding finances and health care.  

Without advance planning, decisions are often made in emergency situations by family members who may not know, or be able to implement, our wishes.

Advance planning means making decisions now about what we want to have happen in the future when we may not be able to make decisions or communicate our wishes.  

An important part of advance planning is communicating our wishes to our family and executing the necessary legal documents.  Planning for death: People are probably most familiar with planning for what occurs upon our death.  

By executing a will, we insure that our property is distributed as we wish and that we provide for guardianship of any minor children.  Some people also to wish to pre-plan their funeral.

Planning for incapacity: We also need to plan for the time when we may be unable to make or communicate our own financial or health care decisions.  By executing a durable power of attorney for property and for health care, we can choose a trusted family member or friend to act on our behalf.

Planning for residential options: Finally, advance planning can address what will happen if we lose our ability to live independently.  

Options include in-home care, moving in with family, or moving to an assisted living or nursing care facility.  Planning ahead can really be essential as it may require saving money or purchasing long-term care insurance.  

And if we are assuming that we can move in with our children or grandchildren and they will care for us, this obviously needs to be discussed and agreed upon in advance.  Hold a family meeting: Have a family meeting to discuss their wishes and plans.  Include all of the adult children if possible.

Remind them of benefits to family: Remind them that by engaging in advance planning they are giving a gift to their family, who will otherwise have the burden of making these decisions for them.

Help with cost of lawyer: Advance planning should be done in consultation with a lawyer so there will be some expense involved.  Consider helping them to pay the legal fees as a gift from the family.

Be sure your own plans are in place: Set a good example by doing your own advance planning.  All adults, especially those with young children, should have these advance directives in place.

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