As parents age, it’s common for their adult children or loved ones to become concerned about their financial situation and long-term care as they reach and surpass their retirement years.
While it can be difficult for adult children to talk to their parents about these things, it is an important and necessary conversation to have. Doing so enables them to help ensure their parent is prepared to get through their retirement years once they’re no longer drawing steady income from gainful employment.
Furthermore, if adult children or other family members will be involved in their loved one’s long-term care, it is essential to have a financial plan in place in order to avoid unexpected or mounting expenses that can deplete their own retirement savings. If an adult child is going to be acting as caregiver, for example, it’s imperative that they have everything they need to fill that role. That includes knowing their loved one’s wishes for end-of-life care, having a power of attorney in place and making sure there are adequate resources to pay for their living expenses, long-term care and final expenses.
If you or other family member is unsure where to begin, or what topics to cover, the following checklist will serve as a helpful guide to ensure that they don’t overlook any of the important aspects of helping their parent or loved one manage their elder care finances.
This checklist can serve as a starting point to begin getting things organized and in order.
- Make a list of all accounts and where they are held
- Consolidate accounts where possible
- Ensure that the proper names and permissions are on each account
- Streamline bill paying by setting up automatic payments where possible, etc.
- Obtain contact information for any financial advisors (It can also be helpful to arrange a meeting with their financial advisor to review investments, asset allocation, and to make sure there are adequate resources to support your parent or loved one’s lifestyle)
- Review Social Security benefits
- Update beneficiary designations
- What investments do they have?
- Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
- Real estate
- Where are these investments?
- Where is the original documentation for all investments?
- What are the amounts of each investment?
- Make a list of all insurance policies and locate copies of each:
- Life Insurance Policies
- Health Insurance Policies
- Long-term care policies
- Other policies (life, health, long-term care, etc.)
- Schedule a meeting with your parent or loved one’s insurance advisor to review policies or to set up a long-term care insurance policy if there isn’t one already
- Review and update any auto, homeowners or umbrella liability policies
- Review and update health insurance coverage and Medicaid planning strategies (i.e.: determine if a Medigap policy will be needed to pay for costs not covered by Medicare)
- Is there a will or estate plan in place and does it need updating to reflect current wishes regarding executors, beneficiaries, etc.?
- Is there a durable and up-to-date power of attorney for finance in place?
- Is there a durable and up-to-date medical power of attorney in place that includes an advance directive outlining wishes for life-prolonging care?
- What is the current living/housing situation and is it working?
- What are the plans for illness, disability or death of a spouse/partner?
- Is there money available to pay for those contingencies (ie: savings or long-term care insurance)?
- Do you have caregiver agreement documents in place?
- Make a list of all doctors and medications currently prescribed
- Make a list of wishes for various medical scenarios
- Make sure health insurance and supplemental policies support those wishes (i.e.: does the nearby hospital accept the current insurance, etc.)
- Make a copy of healthcare cards (these are important when applying for benefits and going to the doctor)
Matters of aging and long-term and estate planning can be emotional and challenging for both the aging parent or loved one and their adult child or relative. But it’s important to make sure things are in order to ensure that these matters are handled as smoothly and effectively as possible.
The goal of elder care planning is to guarantee that your loved one’s needs and wishes are met and that you can help them execute those wishes in a manner that doesn’t become your own financial burden. Making these arrangements before an emergency situation occurs will give your entire family peace of mind and help avoid stressful family or financial conflicts in the future.