You may have noticed that your parents are declining – not only physically, but mentally as well. You are concerned that they will be unable to handle their own financial and legal affairs soon. What could the consequences be?
If your parents do not have a Durable Power of Attorney and a Patient Advocate Designation (Durable Power for Health Care) in place, there is a possibility that a Guardianship or Conservatorship will become necessary if they decline to the point that they are no longer competent to handle their affairs.
What can you do? This is a delicate area as many parents may feel threatened – as if you are trying to take away their independence. They are fearful that you want to control them.
One way to approach this matter is to tell them that you just did your estate plan and now have great peace of mind. You might ask if they have updated theirs. This may start a dialogue about whether they have any documents in place at all.
Another possibility is to tell them a story about a friend who’s parents did not have any documents in place and how difficult it was for the family to go to court to get a Guardianship and Conservatorship.
Sometimes there is a fine line between being well meaning and protecting your own inheritance. For that reason, lawyers typically insist that they have an opportunity to meet with the parent separately, even if a child provides transportation to the office.
If you are successful in getting them to make an appointment with an attorney to discuss these matters, even if you transport them to the office, preserve their dignity by offering to wait in the waiting area while they privately discuss their business with the attorney.