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Helping parents with end of life needs and estate planning

Children often feel uncomfortable talking about end of life matters with their parents. Unfortunately, continually putting off this uncomfortable conversation may mean that by the time someone feels ready, it is already too late. Helping navigate an aging parent’s estate planning to include things like financial and health care decisions should usually be done sooner rather than later.

What happens to someone’s bills, taxes and other expenses when he or she is incapacitated or otherwise no longer capable of handling finances? These expenses do not just go away. Encouraging a parent to create a durable financial power of attorney is usually a smart move, as the person named in this document can continue paying bills, collecting retirement benefits and generally managing finances. Keeping finances in order will avoid many headaches in the future, including possibly losing health insurance or a place to live.

Maintaining health insurance coverage is particularly important for parents who are medically incapacitated. But also important is making sure that someone else can make decisions on his or her before, which can be done with a power of attorney for health care. The person with the authority to make medical decisions should be able to consult a parent’s living will for guidance. A living will might be easily confused with a will used to handle assets after one’s passing, but this document is instead used for addressing medical wishes. Although it is impossible to address every possible situation, most people choose to include the types of treatments they are and are not comfortable with.

Reconciling the memories of a parent from decades ago with who he or she is today may not be easy, but it is important to consider where that parent is now. His or her needs will be different, and children can encourage their parents to really think about those end of life needs during estate planning. Some parents in Louisiana might also prefer to speak with an attorney about their options for creating the most thorough plans possible.

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