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Planning for the New Aging Family

Planning for the New Aging Family

After World War II the typical family raising the baby boomers was a married couple and children. Planning for death or taking care of parents was relatively simple. But now blended families with second marriages of the parents and of the children look more like the Brady Brunch or the movie “Yours, Mine, and Ours.” That means planning for care of the elders with increased life spans and their deaths, has to
take into account the special challenges that blended families present.

With increased life span, many surviving spouses are solo agers. Their spouse is deceased, and if they have children, the children may live anywhere in the country, too far to provide support. In some cases, a solo ager may worry that their children might put the children’s needs ahead of the parent. Whatever the circumstances, planning ahead is critical to reduce the risks of aging alone. Although basic estate
planning documents are essential, choosing the trusted family member, friend or advisor is the most important step to take.

Blended families are often the exact opposite of planning for solo agers. Such families can include second spouses, children, half children and stepchildren. Some may want nothing to do with an elder’s needs for care, or maybe all of them want a say in the aging parents care. Love, money, jealousy, control, and power can result in a mess unless the elder has thought out who will best look out after the elders needs. Without proactive planning, blended families could result in making parents the pawns in a fight for control over personal care decisions and expenditure of financial assets. That old saying “you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen” is true.

How can an elder person or couple approach such planning? First, identify the blended family members who are best equipped to make sound health care decisions. What kind of care? How much? Can it be at home or elsewhere? Can family give that care, or is a care agency needed? What financial resources are
available to the elder? What government programs could the elder qualify to receive?

All the issues are intertwined and not easy to sort out. That is where comprehensive planning, physical, financial, and legal, can make a huge difference if and when minimum care or round the clock care is necessary. Over the last two decades that has come to be called life care planning. It takes into account not only the care issues, but all the legal and financial issues along with the family dynamics that will
impact that care. So as the elders in the family are getting to the point where some help may be needed, it is vitally important to review all aspects of what care might be needed, where will it be given, who is going to give it, and how will it be paid for. The sooner a plan is explored, the better the chance that the elder can have the best living situation possible.

As a client in his 90s said to me many years ago when I started a conversation about his will with the words, “If you die...“, and he cut me off and uttered these words of wisdom, “It’s not if you die, it’s when.” Not everyone is going to need care, but many are, and doing life care planning can generally improve the chances of successful aging.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.

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