by Robin Nutting, CLTC
Each year, thousands of us take part in the role of making long-term care decisions for family members. These emotional decisions may create stressful situations for the entire family in addition to being time-consuming and expensive.
Fortunately, there is a way to help make informed decisions in these situations: communication. Discussing plans for long-term care before it is even needed greatly reduces the stress of dealing with it in a crisis.
Raising the subject may create some momentary awkwardness for both parents and their adult children. However, it is far better to discuss long-term care options ahead of time and together decide what makes the most sense for you and your family.
Ask certain questions regarding a long-term care strategy, including:
- Where and how you would like care delivered, if you were to need it.
- The level of independence you’d like to maintain.
- The role you’d like your family to play in your care.
- How you want to fund your care, while protecting your assets.
Clear communication can help eliminate the problem of catching a spouse or adult child off guard. It may also help eliminate the burden of uncertainty with difficult decisions. Spelling out the location of important documents, as well as care wishes, helps ensure that family members have the information they need to provide for their loved one’s desired care.
Create a Financial and Care Inventory
It is also important to update family members on the location and status of financial and care documents. Having an inventory of these documents provides family members with a road map to critical information. It is focused on where information on financial holdings is located; not specific details about the financial holdings. The inventory is not a legal document, and it need not divulge personal or confidential details you are not prepared to share. It should, however, enable loved ones to quickly locate where you keep your financial, legal, care and legacy records should a crisis occur.
Consider updating this inventory at least annually, and giving copies to family members, a lawyer or executor, or place it in a secure location, where those who might need this information can access it.
While each family’s inventory will differ, the inventory list can also include information related to where someone can find the following:
- Living wills/health care directives
- Insurance (health, life, long-term care, annuities, auto, homeowners, etc.)
- Wills, trusts and deeds
- Bank accounts and investment accounts
- Credit card accounts and other outstanding debt
- Contact information for lawyers, accountants, brokers, agents
- Jewelry and other valuables
- Essential keys
- Instructions related to funeral arrangements
- Personal instructions or messages
- Location of birth, marriage and military discharge certificates
- Information related to charitable gifts
Nutting, CLTC, a financial associate with Thrivent Financial in Southern Pines, can reached at 910-692-5570 or firstname.lastname@example.org