Helping your aging parents with care planning as they age is a necessary process. The number of aging adults has increased dramatically. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, older adults will likely outnumber children for the first time in U.S. History in 2034. Baby boomers are a highly populated generation. Beginning in 2030, all baby boomers will be over age 65 and will make up 21 percent of the United States population. Learning how to help our aging parents engage in care planning will benefit everyone involved.
Our Southeastern Massachusetts Care Planning Lawyer Can Help
As our parents age, they may become less able to do things for themselves. When physical and mental struggles lead to a loss of independence in your aging loved one’s life, it’s time to help them design a care plan. A lack of advanced care planning can cause financial and emotional strain on an aging parent’s family and caretakers.
At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, our lawyers understand how difficult it can be to discuss advance care planning and estate planning with aging loved ones. Our compassionate legal team is here to help you engage in the type of care planning that will help your family for years to come.
Starting the Process of Care Planning for Aging Parents
The first step to starting the care planning process is to find out where your parents are in the process. You may want to sit down with your parents and have a frank conversation regarding where they are in the process. Ask your parents if they have already set up any of the following:
- A will
- A trust
- Any accounts with named beneficiaries
- Any transfer-on-death accounts
- Any jointly held accounts with rights of survivorship
Understanding what will happen after your parents pass away will help clear up misunderstandings or family disputes that could arise. Finding out who your parents chose to execute their estate is also valuable information.
If your parents do not have created a will or trust-based estate plan, you can encourage them to meet with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Sometimes aging adults feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with their estate planning. They are not alone. Many Americans of all ages have no estate plan set up. The legal team at Surprenant & Beneski, PC, works together to make sure you feel comfortable and confident while working with us. We will evaluate your loved one’s situation and help you create a comprehensive estate plan. You will be able to rest easier, knowing that your aging parents have a well-thought-out estate plan.
Helping Your Parents Create an Advance Directive
An advance directive is a written statement that sets forth your parents’ wishes regarding their medical care if they are unable to communicate due to a medical emergency or incapacitation. Many Americans may think that only people who are close to passing away need an advance directive. An accident or illness can happen suddenly, however. We recommend that all Americans over the age of 18 create a legally enforceable advance directive.
It can be challenging to discuss the possibility of your aging parents becoming incapacitated and needing aggressive medical treatment like feeding tubes and respirators. You might benefit from breaking the conversation up into several different conversations. Communicate to your aging parents that if you need to pause the conversation, you are happy to do so. Talking to your parents while they are healthy and mentally able to state their wishes will help them receive the type of care they desire. If you wait too long to make these decisions, it could be too late.
Remind your parents that they do not need to make these decisions alone and that you will support them throughout the process. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how to make these types of decisions. You may benefit from speaking to a medical professional to understand better what might happen in medical emergencies. Your parents should consider whether they want the following types of medical intervention:
- Receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops beating
- Be placed on a ventilator to breathe
- Receive kidney dialysis
- Be placed on a feeding tube
- Take serious medication, including antibiotics to treat serious infections
Helping Your Aging Parents Create an Advanced Directive/Living Will
In Massachusetts, advanced directive/living wills are not legally enforceable. An advanced directive is a document that outlines a person’s wishes should they become terminally ill, suffer a serious injury, become incapacitated or in a persistent vegetative state. Even though advanced directives aren’t legally enforceable in Massachusetts, they can be incredibly beneficial for families. An advanced directive will give family members and doctors a starting point to facilitate conversations about challenging medical decisions.
The Importance of a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney
Massachusetts law recognizes health care proxy documents as being legally binding. A health care proxy will allow your parents to choose someone else to make their medical decisions should they become unable to do so themselves. Your parents will be able to appoint anyone over the age of 18 to act as their agent or proxy. They will have control to make the decision making authority as broad or as limited as they choose.
Another challenging aspect of aging happens when our parents are no longer able to handle their finances. Watching our parents lose the ability to manage their finances can be difficult. Creating a durable power of attorney will allow your parents to appoint an agent to help them pay their bills and manage their financial accounts.
Contact Our Southeastern Massachusetts Care Planning Attorney
At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, several of our experienced lawyers have personal experience helping their aging parents engage in care planning. We understand that care planning can be an overwhelming task that can also be emotional. Our legal team can help you walk through the process. Contact our law firm to schedule your initial consultation.