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Adult children often find it difficult to think about the possibility that someday one or both of their parents won't be self-sufficient. As a result, many families are unprepared to handle the issues and challenges that arise with aging parents.
According to the California Society of CPAs (www.calcpa.org), the best time to talk about financial and health issues is when your parents are well and independent. And for many families, the holiday season, as everyone gathers together, provides a good opportunity to carry out this important task. So gather your siblings, set a date, and consider reviewing the following questions with your parents.
If your parents have not already done so, you might suggest that they consider creating a durable power of attorney. With this legal document, your parents authorize a specific person to act on their behalf in managing their financial affairs should they become incapacitated. The designated person can pay bills, cash checks, make investment decisions and even sell your parents’ home on their behalf.
Having a power of attorney put in place while your parents are still competent avoids the costly and time-consuming process of going through the court system to obtain these powers.
This is a difficult but important question to bring up. Once your parents have formulated their wishes, a lawyer can draw up an advanced medical directive, a written document that takes effect when a physician certifies that a person is unable to make his or her own health care decisions.
There are two types of advance directives available. A living will contains written directives to health care providers regarding what types of life support or sustaining treatments you do or don’t want to receive. A durable power of attorney for health care is a document in which one person gives another person the legal authority to make medical treatment decisions on his or her behalf.
If your parents have specific thoughts regarding the funeral ceremony or service, burial or cremation, ask them to put their wishes in writing. This will help to ensure that their desires are carried out and reduces the possibility of disagreements among siblings regarding exactly what the parents would want done.
In accordance with IRS Circular 230, the information on this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used as or considered a "covered opinion" or other written tax advice and should not be relied upon for the purpose of avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or tax-related matter(s) addressed herein; for IRS audit, tax dispute or other purposes.