The Dangers of Failing to Plan: Caregiving Misunderstandings
If you are like the vast majority of people, when you see or hear the words “estate planning,” you are likely to think about wills, trusts, and other formal instruments that are commonly used to transfer property from one generation to the next. While it is certainly true that the transfer and protection of assets are major components of any estate plan, there are several other elements that address quality of life concerns as a person ages.
As an estate planning attorney, I realize that many important topics like these can be difficult for many families to discuss openly. Unfortunately, not talking about them often leads to misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions that can grow into serious problems down the road.
Designating a Caregiver
It can be tough to think about a time when we cannot do everything for ourselves anymore. However, the reality is that many—if not most of us—will require the help of another person at some point in our lives. According to a recent survey, nearly three-quarters of American adults presume that one or more of their children will assume caregiving responsibilities if and when such care is needed. About 60 percent of that group assume that their daughters will step into the role of caregiver.
While you may believe that your child or children will be there for you when you need help, they might not be aware of your expectations unless you have a direct discussion with them about it. The above-referenced survey found that only about three out of five adult children realize that their parents expect them to assume caregiving duties as their parents age.
Direct, Continuing Conversations
The only thing certain about the future is that it is uncertain, but open communication is vital in avoiding misunderstandings between aging parents and their children. If you want your children to take an active role in caring for you when you need help, you must tell them so. It would be even better if you ask them if they are willing to accept caregiving responsibilities. Keep them informed of your what your needs will likely be based on your current situation—including health, money, and other factors. If your child seems a bit put off by your request—especially when you first ask—try not to take it as a rejection. It can be equally tough for a child to consider his or her parent’s mortality as well, and people often become more open to the idea of being a caregiver as time passes.
If you have more than one child, encourage—and ask—them to cooperate. Too often, a disproportionate share of the caregiving duties seems to fall on just one child, even when there are others who could help. Even if your children agree to such an arrangement, it could lead to infighting and stress later. You might not be able to prevent every disagreement, but you could help by communicating what you will need and allowing all your children to contribute to the discussion. If and when the need arises, each of them will have an understanding of what is expected.
We Can Help
If you are ready to start the conversation about caregiving with your loved ones, contact an experienced Naperville estate planning lawyer. Our team can help guide your discussions and provide trusted advice on a full range of estate planning considerations. Call 630-756-1160 for your initial consultation at the Gierach Law Firm today. You can also click or tap here to download our free estate planning guides.