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  • Archive for September, 2013

    How To Get Resistant Aging Parents To Talk About The Future

    Monday, September 23rd, 2013

    Do your aging parents resist talking about the future or giving you any of their financial or legal information?  You’re not alone.

    “The Talk” about the future is off limits for a lot of parents. They are fearful of losing control of their lives.  Many adult children avoid pushing because their parents may even get angry when the subject is raised.  Then, when a crisis happens, the adult children are frustrated and angry because the burden of dealing with it, operating in the dark as it were, is so unfair.

    Carolyn Rosenblatt has designed a few techniques to help. It’s part of her Crisis Action Plan seminar she put together to address this specific problem.  To even have a plan, you have to start by asking questions.  That can be tricky.  Here is one way to approach the issue indirectly.

    Instead of flat out asking your parents to tell you  their personal information, it may work to talk about emergency preparedness instead.

    Natural disasters happen and talking about them can serve as a bridge to the subject of being prepared for personal health emergencies.

    So, I agree that you should bring up emergency preparedness as a roundabout way of getting to the information you need.  When the headlines tell us of the latest fire, hurricane, earthquake or tornado, you can use that opportunity to open the subject of what you would do in case a disaster created a health emergency for your aging loved one.

    There are some basics everyone needs to have.  Your agenda, hidden or not when you talk to your aging parent, needs to be to get these basics and keep your own records of them.

    The specifics:

    Have a discussion with your aging parent about what they would want you to do if there were a disaster. It’s less threatening to think about than some other kinds of medical emergencies because it’s happening to someone else, maybe somewhere else.
    You can ask, ” Mom, what would you want us to do if you were knocked off your feet by a (tornado, earthquake, flood, etc.,) and had to go to the hospital for awhile?

    If the answer is “ I’m never going to be in a hospital, so forget it”, you can’t stop there. You can point out that natural disasters happen all the time and you would be the one to get the phone call if it affected Mom. It’s not fair to leave you without any idea of where to find anything, so Mom needs to help you out.

    Ask your aging parent about how you would pay their bills if they were left unconscious as a result of a disaster. If your parent resists talking about this, you might point out that if the bills weren’t paid on time, the electricity would be shut off, the phone service would stop and if there’s a mortgage, the house could go into default.  Insurance policies could be cancelled if premiums weren’t paid, and many losses could occur.  This can help you get to and to make a record of the bank accounts, checking account. If your parent doesn’t have a Durable Power of Attorney for finances, this is an ideal time to get that done.

    Ask what your aging parents would want you to do if they got badly hurt and were in a coma.  The scenario you describe as the cause could be whatever natural disaster is most common where you live. Here in Georgia that might be a tornado or a hurricane.  Whatever it is, use headline news of these events to your advantage in bringing up the subject. It is fresh, talked about, scary and real at that moment and it can help you get to what you need to know: your parents’ wishes.  Again, if your parent does not have a Health Care Advance Directive or any document in which his or her end of life  wishes are written down, now is a good time to get that done, too.

    If you can get the names of the primary care doctor, the lawyer and the financial advisor if they have these, that’s even better.  It can all be part of the same discussion.  Another excellent addition to your record of information is the name of a neighbor, friend or someone nearby who could help if your parent were in distress and could not, herself, get to a phone.

    Store all you are able to get from your parents in a mobile device or on paper.  Keep it where you can get to it if you need it fast.

    Although your real reason for wanting the information is because anything can happen to an elder, especially in failing health, the presented reason is also legitimate. What would you do if you really did get the phone call that a disaster had struck and your aging parent was affected directly?  It may be easier for your parent to give you what you need to know if you pose it in these terms rather than in terms of the parent losing capacity from aging or developing dementia.  They can ignore those possibilities, but it’s harder to ignore things they see happening right now on TV.

    Planning for emergencies is something everyone needs to do, but we may overlook the need for it with aging loved ones.  Take the first step and find a way into the subject.  As they age, anything can happen.  You’ll feel a lot more confident if you have the information you need when the time comes.

    Is It a Good Idea to Add my Son or Daughter to my Bank Account?

    Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

    As a Peachtree City Estate Planning Attorney I often meet with clients who want their adult children to be able to access their bank accounts to help them out with writing checks or paying bills for them. However, this good intention can create a very serious risk of liability if carried out incorrectly.

    Many times, a parent will go to the bank and ask the teller to add the child onto the account. When this happens, the adult child is now a co-owner of this account. This action may create problems for the parent. For example, if the child gets into an automobile accidents, has creditors, later files for divorce, has a failed business or files for bankruptcy, then the jointly owned asset may be vulnerable to the claims against the child, putting the parents money at risk. This could force the parent to lose some or all of that account to pay the child’s debt.

    Instead of adding the child as a co-owner on bank accounts, your child could use a properly drafted Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) to help you deal with your finances should the circumstance arise. A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you designate who you want to make legal and financial decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself.

    I recommend an extremely comprehensive DPOA that allows your agent to handle virtually all legal and financial matters for you. I also usually recommend a DPOA that goes into effect the moment it is signed (rather than one that “springs” into effect upon the principal’s incapacity–called a “springing power”). This means your agent can use it even if you are not disabled. This is often necessary for the DPOA to be accepted at many financial institutions. Therefore, it is very important that you pick only people you trust to be your agent on your Durable Power of Attorney. Every Durable Power of Attorney should have a primary agent and an alternate agent who would act only if the primary agent is unable to act for you.

    Designating the adult child as a Power of Attorney allows the child to access the account, write checks, pay bills and do everything the parent needs without connecting them personally to the account or exposing assets to the child’s creditors, predators, or divorcing spouses.

    Estate Planning for Women | Robert M. Goldberg – Peachtree City Will and Trust Lawyer

    Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

    Will and trust lawyers in Peachtree City recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to estate plans.  Every situation is different, and each person needs individualized attention.  While there are services that offer cookie-cutter forms that will supposedly allow you to set up a decent plan, there is no comparison to working with an actual estate planning attorney who can work with human understanding to meet your real needs.

    For example, the needs of women have been changing dramatically over the past several years.  Gone are the days when a woman was expected to stay home and live on an “allowance” if her husband chose to give her one.  Instead, so many women today have their own jobs, their own finances, and their own desire to protect their assets.

    Older Women and Widows

    In addition, women typically live longer than men.  So, even if the husband was originally in charge of working with the will and trust lawyer, once he has passed away, the widow has an entirely new set of needs.  She needs to make sure that her estate is able to support her as costs continue to rise, as well as to determine what she would like to have happen to her assets after her own death.

    Not all estate planning lawyers in Peachtree City are current with the times, either.  There is still a tendency to create trusts that will “take care of them” without them actually having any say over the contents of the trust.  Today’s women are often quite capable of managing their own finances and are better served by having flexibility to grow their funds rather than being restricted by the trust.

    Younger Women

    There are plenty of reasons that a younger woman should to meet with a Fayette County will and trust lawyer, too.  In the case of a single mother, assigning a guardian is critical in case of the mother’s death or incapacitation.  If a guardian is not legally named, the courts will step in and choose a guardian for the child without taking the mother’s wishes into consideration. An estate planning attorney may also advise younger mothers to consider setting up a trust for their child(ren) and maybe even to look into life insurance policies that could be used to fund the child(ren)’s future.

    Whether married or not, many younger women have careers and would benefit from retirement planning in this earlier stage of life.  By being proactive early on, a woman can set up her 401k and other accounts to make sure she realizes her long-term financial goals.  Looking to retire young, to pay for your kids’ college, or to travel the world?  A Fayette County will and trust lawyer can help put things in motion now to make that a reality later.

    If you have a significant other in your life, it makes sense for the two of you to work together with the estate planning attorney to make sure that your goals align and that your plans are compatible.  Your attorney can help you properly deal with “his, hers and ours” to ensure that your assets are titled properly and that your financial house together is built on a solid foundation.