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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Monday, August 7, 2017

Have the Dreaded Talk

Over the last few years I have written about a variety of subjects related to elder law, estate planning and special-needs planning. There has been no topic more often discussed than having the family talk and following that up with creating the necessary legal documents to protect and help the entire family.

But just a few weeks ago, I met with a family who had done none of it – no family conversation and no legal documents – and now they were in crisis.

We were able to help that family but the process would have been much smoother had they prepared in advance.

It starts with the conversation. This talk can be started by aging parents or their adult children.

As the parents, do you want your children to not have any idea about your wishes for medical care should you become unable to express them yourself? Or if you pass away without appropriate estate planning, do you want a judge and court to determine what to do with your assets?

As adult children, it is understandable that you do not want to consider your parents’ vulnerability. After all, they have been there for you all these years. But do you know what kind of medical treatment your parents want as they age? If they do become unable to communicate, how can you carry out their wishes? And of course you don’t want to start thinking about what happens to their assets when they pass away.

So the first step – and often the most challenging – is the family conversation. Once everyone is clear on the needs and desires of aging parents, the next step is creating the legal documents – wills, living wills, durable powers of attorney, advance directives, health care power of attorney, DNRs and more.

Yes, it all seems overwhelming. But having the dreaded talk and then preparing the documents with the help of a qualified elder law/estate planning attorney will make it that much easier to function during the period of time when the family is in real crisis.


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