As estate planning lawyers, we regularly work to help administer assets after a death in one’s family. However, as trusted professionals, it is important for us to also encourage our clients to have plans in place for the last days of a dying family member. We must be careful to remind them that we never know when we might wake up to discover that an elderly relative is seriously and terminally ill and needs round-the-clock care.
If money is tight, a client may have limited care choices as their loved one’s health deteriorates. Nursing homes are expensive, and home care may not be an option due to time constraints concerning work and childcare. In addition to the tremendous burden of caring for a loved one who is no longer able to care for himself or herself, there may be financial burdens, estate paperwork and other loose ends that may make the process harrowingly difficult.
However, adult children can take the proactive step of a critical setting aside funds for short-term end-of-life care. If their loved ones are nearing a critical age, opening a savings account today can help offer a cushion for any short-term medical needs, such as hospice care or in-home services.
Those who already have specific types of savings accounts may find the money is still insufficient to cover the needs of a dying loved one. For example, a person who has funds wrapped up in retirement accounts may find that withdrawing money from those accounts early subjects the money to fees and taxes, which makes relying on those funds an unwise option for those under age 59 ½. Others may already be in deep financial debt, and therefore are unable to afford the costs of care without suffering financial hardships.
Encouraging a client to save for the days when their loved ones journey to their final resting place will undoubtedly prevent many headaches during an already trying time. If adult children are financially prepared to care for dying parents or other relatives, they will be able to focus on things that truly matter, such as making the most of the remaining time they have with a loved one. Dealing with the daily tasks of short-term terminal illness may be daunting, but financial preparation creates one less concern.
Sanford M. Fisch
CEO & Co-Founder
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128