If your parents live in South Florida, these steps can help you give them a great life in their late years:
Review Their Assets
The first step in protecting your parents’ assets is to review what they already have. Carefully comb through their retirement funds, banking and investment accounts, insurance policies, protection plans, social security, etc. Sit down with your parents to review their assets and discuss how they would like to allocate them if something should happen. It’s a difficult discussion to have, and an emotional one, too -- but it’s necessary. More important than future distributions is the careful review of their current holdings to ensure whether they are prudently invested and managed to provide for current and future needs. A meeting with a trusted, professional advisor is crucial.
Create a Will
If your parents don’t already have a Florida will, encourage them to work with an attorney to prepare one. Having a firm understanding of their financial assets will be of great help to them as they complete their planning.
In an AARP article, 10 Things You Should Know About Writing a Will, it states, “A will is an important way you can stay in control over who gets what of your property," says Sally Hurme, an attorney with AARP, "and by planning in advance you can also save your family time and money."
Make sure the will is very clear and explicit about what your parents want to do with their assets to ensure their money is going to the right place. (Note: May also want to consider the creation of a trust agreement and should discuss appropriateness with your attorney).
Set Up a Power of Attorney
Power of attorney is a written authorization that lets someone else make important personal, legal and financial decisions on behalf of the grantor, or the person that created the power of attorney. This is an important part of protecting your parents’ assets, as well as personal wishes. If something should happen to one or both of your parents, and they are unable to make decisions on their own, power of attorney can come in handy to protect assets and keep personal wishes and plans intact.
Create a Written Care AgreementA written care agreement can help you and your parents decide on long-term care and help clarify any potential issues down the road. Caring.com explains exactly how a written care agreement can help protect your family:
- It can help avoid misunderstandings with other family members about who's providing care and how much money is changing hands.
- If the person you're caring for is receiving state assistance for in-home care, the agreement can prove to the state exactly where some of the money is going, which the state program might require.
- If the person ever needs to enter a nursing home and needs Medicaid to help pay for it, the agreement can show that these payments were legitimate, not just an attempt to "hide" funds in order to qualify for Medicaid's services.
Having an agreement in place can help avoid any hassles down the line with your parents’ long-term care and ensure that they are being taken care of.
Consider Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is an integral part of protecting your parents’ assets and preserving their well being. Long-term care insurance helps cover services and support for assisted living and reimburses you for some or all of the daily costs of receiving assistance. Something to note is that most policies have limits on how much they will pay as well as how long they will pay.
To ensure you are getting the right policy for your family, consult with a reputable lawyer in South Florida that specializes in elder law. You can also find additional information on ElderLawAnswers, which provides in-depth tools and resources to help plan for long-term care.
Watching your parents age is difficult, ensuring peace of mind is not. To further assist them, you can help them protect their assets and make sure things are handled in a way that respects who they are and what they want. Start early, as many of these things can be time consuming -- and while you are working to protect your parents’ assets, enjoy your time with them. Every last minute of it.
Caldwell Trust Company is an independent trust company with offices in Venice and Sarasota, Florida. The company offers a full range of fiduciary services to individuals, including services as trustee, custodian, investment adviser, financial manager and personal representative. Additionally, Caldwell manages 401(k) and 403(b) qualified retirement plans for employers.