As you gather with your close friends and family members this holiday season, we encourage you to think about more than just exchanging gifts and sharing a meal. As difficult as it may be, the holidays are a prime time to talk to your aging parents about your long-term care planning. The fact that you may be together for a few days, spending quality time with one another, allows you to have this conversation in a comfortable setting and allows your parents to ask questions and share concerns. We know this is likely not the conversation you wish to have with your parents, but it is an important one. This is why we want to explain three tips for sharing your long-term care plans with your parents over the holidays.
- Explain why this is an important conversation to have.
The first step after setting up a mutually convenient time away from holiday festivities is to explain to your parents why you are discussing your long-term care plans with them. Talking about finances, illnesses, and even death can be emotionally taxing. Ensure your aging parents that this conversation is in everyone’s best interest and is simply to ensure that all the necessary people are on the same page. It is important to approach this topic with sensitivity and to allow your parents time to express concerns, voice their opinions, and ask questions.
- Discuss any existing estate planning documents and long-term care plans.
Your parents may already have estate planning and long-term care planning documents in place. Ask them whether they have created a will or trust, a health care power of attorney, or a durable power of attorney. If they have not created any of these documents yet, ask them to share with you the reasons why they have not done so. You may wish to make a plan as a family as to how you will proceed with creating the documents and the types of planning documents you need. Further, it is crucial that you ask your parents what their own wishes are for their long-term care planning. What are their goals? How can you help your parents accomplish those goals? Addressing these questions now will likely make it easier in the event of illness or incapacity.
- Remind your parents that you will always be there for them.
Above all, this may be a stressful conversation to have and it is important to remind your aging parents that you love them and are there to help and support them. Listen attentively to any concerns your parents bring up and do your best to incorporate their wants and goals in their long-term care planning documents. Having this conversation as a family can show your parents that you respect their wishes.
There are many ways to make this conversation productive, and we have outlined just a few of those here. If you have further questions about this difficult topic, do not hesitate to contact us at our office.