Holidays are just around the corner and families will be gathering to celebrate. This is the time of year when you are able to spend time with your parents. The Alzheimer’s association reports that at age 80 half of all people have some form of dementia, thus if your parents are in that age range chances are you may see signs of mental decline when you visit, and even if you don’t there are things you must discuss. It is uncomfortable discussing money with your parents, unfortunately it is important to have these conversations.
A time will come when one or both of your parents either pass away or worse the parent who is covering the memory loss of the other parent ends up in the hospital unable to take care of their affairs at home. Then the family has the task of figuring out where the important documents are, where the bank accounts are, who their stock broker is, and how to take care of the one with memory loss.
I saw first hand the disaster caused when the family never discusses questions like: Where do you keep your Will and Trust? Where do you bank? Where do you keep your financial records? Who is your broker? What is the password for your computer? Your bank account? Your brokerage account?. My mother in-law had dementia and when my father in-law fell and broke his hip he was unable to talk for many months due to a reaction to anesthesia. We did not know where their trust and power of attorney were, it took weeks but we found a business card that belonged to the attorney who drafted their estate planning documents and that they had paper records that were found in a file cabinet. Unfortunately not everyone is that lucky and with more records online it is even harder to find the information you need.
During this holiday season remember to discuss these issues with your parents. If you need help contact an elder law attorney who can help you figure out what to do if your parent is showing signs of memory loss.
Martha Patterson is a California Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, and Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. She focuses on Elder Law, Asset Protection and Estate Planning. She is a Member of NAELA; Past President of Southern California NAELA. Featured on CNN, Good Morning America, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, and radio stations KABC, KNX, and KKLA. She overcame incredible objections and enabled Kerri and Julie Kasem to visit their dad radio host Casey Kasem. She is a frequent lecturer for NBI, and is a at MCLE events, and public forums.