Tonight's post was written by our Georgia Elder Law, Probate Law and
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer,
Georgia estate planning and elder law attorneys often find themselves advising
adult children of the elderly on the intricacies of managing their parents'
finances. While it may seem straightforward at first, there are many details
and difficulties that can get in the way.
There are so many things to coordinate, and often the parent is less than
helpful in the process. Being somewhat prepared and having access to an
estate lawyer are two of the ways you can help avoid some of the more
common pitfalls, such as:
Memory Loss - Memory loss is prevalent among the elderly, and it's actually one
of the big reasons that adult children are called in to take over finances.
Unfortunately, it also makes the job that much more difficult because
the parent isn't able to answer important questions such as "How
much do you owe?" or "When is this bill due?"
Role Reversal - For the majority of the adult child's life, the parent has been
in charge. Taking over and being firm with the parent can be more than
a little uncomfortable. On top of that, it can be frustrating and cause
resentment to see the person who taught you so much, no longer following
their own advice.
Lack of Information - Your parent may have chosen to be forthcoming about finances with a
lawyer, but that doesn't mean that they want to let you in on all
the financial details of their life. Previous generations found it improper
to discuss money, resulting in an air of secrecy that can be difficult
to break through.
So, how should you approach with these obstacles?
As with so many other aspects of life, the best way to deal with problems
is to avoid them altogether. The earlier you and your parent meet with
an attorney that you trust, the more likely you are to get the information you need.
As an added bonus, your parent will have the ability to make his or her
wishes known in order to offer guidance on how to handle their affairs
if and when all of the responsibility is passed on to you. If you wait
too long, your parent may no longer have legal capacity to sign documents
and make their wishes known. Then your only remedy is to seek a guardianship
or conservatorship over them through the probate court. Less pleasant.
No matter where your parent is, the subject needs to be broached. Again,
earlier is better, as they are more likely to understand the importance
of what is happening. You may choose to start the conversation by relating
it to your own estate planning or by bringing up a situation you heard
about recently, such as the death of a celebrity.
A good estate planning lawyer and elder law attorney in Georgia can offer
suggestions on how to bring up the subject, as well as how to help steer
the conversation in the right direction.
If you need our help, please give us a call at 770-421-0808 or email me at
Steve handles our client's matters in all of our offices, Marietta,
Atlanta, Lawrenceville, Savannah, Canton and Gainesville.