Estate Plan – Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

When a 48-year-old San Francisco woman’s mother had a massive stroke, both mother and daughter were catapulted into a series of decisions. Where would the mother live? How much care did the 83-year-old need? Could the other adult children help out? The hospital recommended a nursing home, but that didn’t seem right.

A tidal wave of decisions can come roaring at unsuspecting adults who can become their elderly parents’ caretakers. According to industry experts, a better approach is to discuss these decisions ahead of time in an estate planning approach that takes long-term care into consideration.

In the case of the 48-year-old California woman and her mother, the family hired a live-in caretaker for the 83-year-old woman. Even so, the stress took a toll on the daughter who lost 30 pounds to what she believed was stress.

According to AARP, 42 million Americans provide caretaking types of services for an adult member of their family. That can be a stressful role for the caretaker. A study reported that among the female caregivers who are 50-years-old or older, 20 percent of them suffered symptoms of depression.

A well-rounded estate plan would address the long-tem health care needs of the elderly adult and also address the caretaking issues. The plan would most likely addresses needs such as:

  • Powers of attorney
  • Living wills
  • Advanced health care directives
  • Health care proxy
  • Adult guardianship if needed

Some of the decisions that need to be made have significant financial consequences as well and can perhaps be better attended to when the situation is not an emergency. The average cost of a nursing home is more than $77,000 per year. Having a plan to pay for long-term care should be considered in any well-thought-out estate plan.

Source: USA Today, “Caring for elderly parents catches many unprepared,” Christine Dugas, March 30, 2012