One question you need to ask your parents at the holidays

It has been a really hard year and you may not be able to have dinner with your parents this year. So whether or not you are able to visit in person or not, there is one question you need to ask your parents. Where are their legal documents? Especially important is where is their healthcare directive.

If it wasn’t tragic and expensive and all too common, the story of the time you couldn’t find your parents’ legal documents could be funny. Now that it is long past, and the court drama is over, the time we could not find my in-laws Trust, Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney we do laugh that we found it in the attic space next to the hole to crawl in. Why didn’t we think of that?

So here is my cautionary tale: When my father in-law fell and broke his hip, my mother in-law had dementia. He went into surgery and for several months after he had trouble communicating so was not able to tell us where his documents were. We had to go to court to take over the finances for both of them and health care for my mother in-law (he could sign a new healthcare power of attorney, but since we did not have the documents and my mother in-law was unable to handle her own affairs court intervention was required. The drama court involves could fill a TV series, but no one would watch because taking care of someone’s money and healthcare is a thankless job and no one wants to see the pain of dementia and court.

So, I hope you have a Happy Chanukkah and a Merry Christmas.