Very few people want to even think about end-of-life planning, much less actually begin the process. However, the simple answer to “when to begin” is now. This is true for a few reasons: anything can happen when you aren’t ready for it, beginning the discussion now while everyone is of sound mind and body makes for better decision-making, and you aren’t under the gun to make decisions.
One of the most tragic things that can happen is realizing that a family member needs long-term care or other assistance now – when you are forced to scramble to get information and make decisions. For healthcare and financial reasons, beginning the discussion and sitting down with a life care planning attorney who will work to understand your family’s unique needs is a good idea.
That being said, some families opt for procrastination. If your family falls into this category, you are in good company. Perhaps knowing there may be some trigger points along the way will give you a heads up when it’s time to reconsider waiting. These include:
Your family member’s health has taken a sharp turn for the worse. Your mom has been living alone for a long time and getting by. You didn’t want to rock the boat by discussing what happens when she begins to have more bad days than good. However, when that day arrives, you need to take action. If your elderly loved one has suffered a health setback, such as a stroke or even just more pain than usual, it’s time to think about a life care plan. If you’re getting concerned that they may need extensive care in the near future, planning is a wise decision.
A diagnosis is certain. Many older people tend to sweep aches, pains, and cognitive issues under the rug. They don’t talk about them for fear that a visit to a doctor can quickly turn a concern into a full-fledged problem. If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease or a disease that causes long-term debilitation, including a cognitive disease, consider a life care plan. A serious diagnosis means that you will likely face mounting healthcare bills in the near future. Proper planning will ease your mind and help you prepare for future needs.
You are growing increasingly worried about the cost of elder care. This is the number one reason why many people turn to professional life care planning. Fiscally prudent people know that it makes sense to spend a little on a plan today in an effort to save a lot tomorrow. This is especially true when you believe your loved one will need significant financial assets to pay for care in the future.
You can’t be there to help as much as your loved one needs you to be. Work, families, everyday life responsibilities get in the way of allowing us to be there 100 percent for our aging loved ones. If your family simply cannot handle all the care that must be provided, start working with a life care planner right away. It’s never too late to put a plan in place that will ease your mind when you can’t be there yourself.
You have asset spend down issues. In order to apply for Medicaid-paid nursing home expenses, your loved one is not permitted to possess a certain level of assets. If you need to find out more information about spending down or redistributing assets to allow a family member to qualify for Medicaid, speak to a life care planning attorney.
At the end of the day, you want your relative to receive the highest level of care while their dignity is maintained. Planning ahead is the very best way to ensure their wishes can be followed. By getting your elderly loved one involved in the conversation, you can actually show your respect for their opinions and let them know you will do your best to take care of them as time goes on.
While not all families will necessarily need to do life care planning for elderly relatives immediately, it is financially prudent to come up with a plan that will save the family money while also affording the care that the elder needs. Starting as soon as possible gives you the most amount of breathing room to make wise decisions.
Don’t think of life care planning as “planning for the end.” Think of it as planning to be able to live a life as they so desire, protecting assets and putting in place a strategy to care for your loved ones as they age. Contact the life care planning team at Bratton Scott today for a consultation about your family’s specific needs.