One overlooked aspect of elder caregiving is the difficulty of the transition time itself. While some seniors may suffer serious medical events (stroke, heart attack, etc.) which require adult children to manage affairs overnight, in many cases the need for support happens only gradually. This presents a challenge as children must delicately broach the topic with parents who may be uninterested in change. At the same time, sibling rivalry, hurt feelings, misunderstood intentions, lack of information about savings, and many other details are thrown into the mix.
Put another way, before even deciding the best way to provide “financial caregiving” for an elderly parent, one must first figure out when to begin and how to get the parent to concede that help is needed.
A CNBC article last week examined this sensitive subject. The article provides reasonable advice while noting that “the shift [to financial caregiving by adult children] can be less stressful if everyone takes it slow, seeks advice and remembers that helping to maintain a loved one’s well-being is the primary goal.
***Take it Slow: Understand that transitioning control of something as personal as one’s finances is bound to be a sensitive topic. It takes time for many seniors to come around the fact that it will actually help them, instead of being an affront to their independence. Recognizing that it is common for some friction to develop when the topic is first broached will make it easier to remain calm and slowly work on getting everyone on the same page.
***Seek Advice: No matter what, you do not have to go it alone. Professionals exist who are intimately aware of all of the intricate details and sensitive nature of these elder care concerns. Those professionals can not only do the actual leg work to make plans, but they can provide helpful advice based on observing similar situations with other families. You just need to ask.
***Put it in Writing: No matter how secure one’s family situation seems, it is critical to ensure financial matters are not left to chance. Disagreements are incredibly likely to arise between different parties involved when proper legal documents transferring rights to others are not created. Considering the relatively minor cost and challenge of following the proper legal steps, there is no reason to avoid this process.
For help with any number of elder law or caregiving issues in New York, please feel free to contact the experienced attorneys our firm. We have offices throughout the state and have helped thousands of families with these challenges.