Many unprepared for the needs of aging parents

Asking questions now can save heartache in the future

LAKE MARY, Fla. – Studies show nearly 10-million adults are caring for their aging parents -- a number that is sure to increase as the population ages.

Many of these children are being put in positions they were ill prepared for, unaware of mom and dad's financial standing. Many are finding insufficient funds for what could be the most expensive years of their parent's lives.

It's a difficult conversation to start. Societal norms of not talking about money combined with the topic of death make it easier to put off for another day.

A day that often comes without warning.

Financial Planner Carlos Dias of Excel Tax & Wealth Group in Lake Mary says he often has clients come to him desperately looking for answers, caught off guard by a parent's sudden illness. 

"The best thing to do is plan ahead, and several years ahead," he says. "When they are healthy, they are in good physical condition, there is nothing immediately going on."

Dias lists a number of things to consider.

He says it's important to find out what form of care they would be comfortable with. He says 85 percent of seniors would rather stay in their own home rather than go to a nursing home. 

If this is the case, cost may become an issue. estimates 24 hour in-home care can run between $150-$280 a day.

It's important to know what kind of assets are available and how they are structured. Do any of the assets have long-term care built into them?

Dias says it's important to read insurance documents carefully. Policies written 10-20 years ago may not be adequate for today's needs.

Are documents in place establishing durable power of attorney, guardianship and legal health surrogate?

"With those steps in place, it gets you on the right track because if they have no legal documents in place then you know that you have to implement some legal documents."

Dias offers this checklist for families having these conversations.

Dias says one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that they won't need it.

"When I address long-term care, the biggest response that I see is 'that's not going to happen to me.' I won't need it, my parent's passed away in their sleep. 'I'll never need it' is probably the worst notion to live by," Dias said.

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