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Aging Parents – Be Prepared (Vol 1)

Aging parents is something that I have been experiencing for quite some time, and many of my friends and family are or will be facing the same thing – so, I figured I’d write a little bit about it.  There is a LOT that can and has been written about it, so I’ll probably do this in chunks so none of my entries are too long.

(Disclaimer: I am not certified, degreed, or otherwise officially blessed in this (not even sure that exists) – I just have a decent amount of recent experience so sharing my perspective only.  Consult your attorney, medical professional, accountant, librarian, and travel agent as restrictions apply.  Past performance does not guarantee future results.  You get it.  And if you don’t, then stop reading now and sell your laptop.)

If I could only have one suggestion, it would be to discuss this early and often (like we vote in Illinois elections).  It’s not an easy or comfortable discussion, but I would argue it’s necessary – at least if you want to avoid a LOT of grief going forward.  That said, here are a couple of the first things that pop into my head to consider:

  1. POAs – OK, WTF is that right? POA stands for Power of Attorney, and at least in Illinois, there is one for Property and one for Healthcare.  They basically allow for the person named to act on behalf of your parent for either Property (finances, house, etc) or Healthcare (medical care).  There can be a primary, and a backup as well.  Ask your parents IF they have POAs in place and if so, who are the people named.  If they don’t, then get on it ASAP.
  2. Will – This should be a no-brainer, but do they have a will in place, and if so, what’s the scoop? This is likely more relevant if only one parent is left, and can be an awkward conversation as it involves financial stuff, but if they have any assets in their name, probably a good idea to understand what their wishes are before they pass.  Really, nobody likes surprises, and it can really help to be prepared.
  3. After Death – No, this isn’t a debate about Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory – just a question about what would the like to happen after they die. Wake/Funeral?  Cremation?  Body donation?  Burial?  Keep the ashes?  Spread them?  (That is actually illegal, but happens all the time.)  None of the above?  Again, surprises are not fun, especially after they are gone and can’t discuss it.   Ask now so you can be prepared to deal with.

Those are my first few – at least for now.  There will be more, like it or not.

Just trying to help.  🙂

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  • Karen

    Had the 2 chores done before dad died. The other responsibilities to be done by a lawyer, well let’s just say she dragged her heels and she finally had the papers ready for him to sign about 8 hours after he died. $5,000 bucks later the estate was closed. Needless to say she is the sister of one of our congressmen from Illinois.

  • Dave Snider

    Great advice Joe. Something I would add is being prepared for all of the day-to-day/week-to-week/month-to-month/annual tasks that need to be managed. Many of us will find ourselves suddenly doing this for our parents and it really can eat into your time. I find it helpful to get a system and schedule down right away, and communicate this to your parents (every Monday it’s groceries, other errands, and mail, on the first of the month pay their bills, check financial items that need attention, have call with accountant first of the year…). And, communicate this to them clearly and regularly, and to any siblings. Just my 2¢. Thanks again for posting this Joe.

    • aeroimages

      Great feedback Dave – very, very true there. I did not have a “system”, which did present a challenge for sure.

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