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Adult Kids Doing Crisis Planning

Sometimes it comes in waves. Recently at the law office, we have had several individuals who have found themselves in the unenviable position of being called in at the last minute to care for an elderly parent. Specifically what I mean is that the parent has experienced a health crisis. In their cognitive or physical health, they can no longer function properly. Now the adult child must take action.

To make matters worse, the adult child was already very busy with their many activities of life. These adult “kids” are usually in their 50s and have families of their own, busy jobs and other required activities. As a matter of fact they are usually at the very peak of their career and have very little discretionary time at this point.

Now they have a huge additional load to carry around with them – their parent, whom they love dearly, is declining and they are being called to help. If the adult child lives locally, they may be stopping by daily to provide personal assistance. If the parent lives at a distance they may be doing everything they can on the phone and be trying to figure out when they can schedule time to fly back to Mom’s house to try to take care of matters over a long weekend.

Making decisions rooted in uncertainty

This is all complicated by the fact that it’s happening in real time and late in the process. They adult child can’t keep from wondering why he (or she) and Mom did not have discussions about this topic before. So many issues could have been nipped in the bud. So many decisions could have been made. But this didn’t happen.

Now Mom is having serious issues and the child is having to make many decisions, all of which are rooted firmly in uncertainty. A few things that they don’t know but wish they did are the following:

Things they wish they would have known before the crisis

  1. What help exactly does Mom need? Does she need help with everything or only a few things?
  2. What does Mom want? Where does she want to be? Who does she want to help? What level of care does she need currently?
  3. Has Mom been to the doctor recently? What did the doctor say?
  4. Does Mom have any money? How does she want that money to be used for her care?
  5. If Mom has money where is it at? Can it be withdrawn easily and without penalty? Do I or someone else have access to it so as to be able to use it for her care?
  6. Does Mom have any legal documents in place? Where are they at?
  7. Am I or someone else authorized to make property or health care decisions on behalf of Mom?

The reason I’m mentioning all of these is not to send you into a panic but to give you a clue. If your Mom or Dad are elderly and you sense they are declining, it would be great to start having conversations to try to get as many of these answers as possible. The first question to ask might be “if something were to happen< would you want my help?”

Planning before the point of crisis

The key is to do as much planning as possible before the point of crisis. Crisis planning is rarely good and it’s almost always incredibly stressful. The best part of planning in advance is that your parents get to make their own decisions rather than having someone else guess what decisions they would want to have made. Any planning that can be done in advance is much to the benefit of you and your parents.

At ELP, we work to protect you!

We work with people to do various types of estate planning. There is no one size fits all plan and no plan is categorically better than others. The key is to meet with your attorney (hopefully us!) to discuss your unique situation and have a plan crafted that is best for you. If you or your declining parent is not 100% sure of their beneficiary designations, please be proactive and give us a call before you (or they) lose capacity.

Without a properly flexible plan, how will you care for your declining Loved One, be there for your family, get work done, and pivot in the event of a crisis? What about cost? How will you pay for it all? If you make the Assisted Living Facility choice, how long will the money last? Together, we can craft a proactive plan! Lets get started protecting your assets!

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