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As parents age: the need for dialogue, proactive planning steps

Contemplate for a moment this hypothetical, which moves from the potential to immediate reality for millions of Americans, including Texas residents, each year.

You've noticed with growing concern that the natural aging of your parents is recently bringing new and rapidly befalling consequences that you -- and perhaps your siblings, if you have brother and sisters -- haven't really anticipated and are unprepared for.

Mom might be forgetting important things, for example. Dad has perhaps fallen repeatedly and lost mobility. Bills are not being pay on time, and there are sudden discrepancies in savings and other investment accounts. You lack any real knowledge concerning your parents' assets -- or debts, for that matter -- or their wishes regarding the future. Such matters have never been broached within the family.

They need to be.

In addressing the subject of aging parents and their special needs, a recent media article notes how typical it is for families to not be fully ready to act purposefully and with regard to the wishes of parents as their ability to handle important life matters begins to slip. Siblings are often in the dark regarding elder law issues concerning finances, health care, Medicaid planning, an understanding of guardianships, powers of attorney and related considerations.

That can result in undue stress and even the undermining of parental wishes as end-of-life concerns emerge and require a family response.

Timely discussion with an experienced and empathetic estate planning attorney can help identify the unique concerns that a family faces as mom and dad enter their advanced years. Peace of mind is a common byproduct in families that take proactive and fully informed steps to ensure that the latter years of parents are marked by loved ones’ close understanding of their wishes concerning important financial and health-related matters.

Source: Marketplace, "Taking care of aging parents, from a distance," Paul Sullivan and Kerry Donahue, Nov. 19, 2013

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