News & Resources: Blog

Assisting Your Parents with Their Daily Needs

Published: November 10, 2022

Have you ever wondered if a loved one is no longer safe living independently perhaps because of physical or mental challenges or maybe they just feel lonely? They may neglect important daily living activities that can lead to a downward spiral of malnutrition, injuries, depression, or illness. Many adult children visit their parents (or aunts and uncles) and notice a lack of food, a dangerous home environment, or problems with hygiene. These issues can be embarrassing for the seniors, who may avoid discussing them. They may also worry that it means you will insist on moving them into an assisted living or nursing home facility.

Sometimes a residential facility is the best solution, but it isn’t the only solution. You might also consider having in-home care or having them live with you so you can be their caretaker. Let’s explore some different scenarios.

Nursing Home Facilities

Ted was in his eighties when his wife died. He cooked and cared for himself at home until he fell and needed physical rehabilitation. After recovering physically, he could have moved back home, but his children realized that his house was in an isolated area and required too much driving. They convinced him to try a residential facility with social opportunities and ride services. He lived there happily for years, never needing nursing care.

However, residential facilities also come with all levels of care and support for future needs. Ted could retain as much independence as he wanted. He cooked in his own kitchen and occasionally drove places himself. As additional aging issues came up, he did not need to move. Instead, a nurse began checking in on him daily to ensure that all was well. Routine checks saved his life later when he had a stroke.

In-Home Care

Joan and Margaret’s mother had a different situation. She used home delivery services for food, and her neighbors were her best friends. The church community came by and took her to potlucks and other social events. Joan and Margaret felt that having their mother leave the comfort of her home and neighborhood would have been devastating. Yet, she started needing help getting out of bed and in and out of the shower. Joan, Margaret, and their mom looked for ways to get her the help she needed and allow her to stay at home with a combination of part-time in-home health services. They all felt better when they hired someone to provide three hours per day of meal preparation, cleaning, and other light duties.

Doing the Right Thing for Both of You

Amelia invited her mother to live with her, which seemed like the most loving and practical solution. But after a year, they discovered they both needed more privacy and were bickering. Amelia and her mom decided that their living arrangement would work better with a few adjustments. Amelia hired a ride service to take her mom to a senior center every other day. Her mom played cards, ate lunch, and took exercise classes. One weekend a month, Amelia’s brother visited, and Amelia went away. These adjustments improved their relationship when they were together.

Every situation is different; what works one year may not be the best solution for the following year. As you consider the best options, remember to include your loved one in the process. Assess what level of care they need, including their social-emotional needs.

Hiring Skilled and Non-Skilled Care

Companions can provide social interaction and help with housekeeping, errands, meal preparation, and medication supervision. Personal care aides provide hands-on assistance with personal hygiene, dressing, and moving to different rooms. Licensed or registered nurses can provide skilled medical care. In-home care is available even to those with advanced needs.

If you decide to hire a companion or skilled nurse, consider whether you want to go through an agency or hire an individual directly. Agencies provide you with some protection. They run background checks and offer backup care when the caregiver gets sick or takes days off. They also handle payroll taxes and carry liability and worker’s compensation insurance.

Whether interviewing an agency or individual, ask about licenses and training (especially if dementia is an issue), and past experience. Call references and conduct personal interviews.

As care needs evolve, explore different solutions. Each one will come with costs. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits for potential long-term care needs. We can also review all legal documents to ensure they are up to date. If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

CLIENT Testimonial

Scott Bloom is one of the most caring, responsive, elder law attorney you can find in central New Jersey. He has been a great support not only for my parents but also for me and my siblings. We are deeply grateful for everything he has done over the past 3 years. I am thankful ever day that he came into our lives. In the past year, we lost our father to the terrible disease of dementia, but we are relieved to know that our mother is still in good hands with Scott by her side. Our entire family highly recommends Scott Bloom and his team!
- Annette B., Allentown, New Jersey

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CLIENT Testimonial

It is important to plan your estate to ensure that your assets, interests, and those you love will be protected after your death. However, without proper guidance and advice from a qualified estate planning attorney, many individuals make costly mistakes. Beyond undermining your intent and diminishing your financial legacy, poor planning can create additional stress to your heirs in their time of grief.

Six common errors frequently happen during the estate planning process. These mistakes often occur because the complete financial picture was not fully considered. It is easiest to avoid estate planning mishaps by knowing what they are before you begin or looking for these errors when reviewing and updating your plan.

Financial procrastination causes problems. While examining your mortality and making end-of-life preparations is not a particularly fun activity, try viewing it as helping and enhancing your loved ones' future lives while creating a sense of peace during your own. 

The need to protect your finances using wills, trusts, and power of attorney (POA) documents is not solely the domain of the elderly. Putting off the drafting of legal documents necessary to protect yourself and your inheritors can lead to disastrous outcomes.

By far, failing to create an estate plan is the most common mistake. Even if you do not have a lot of money, you need a will to protect any minor children you have by naming their guardians. Your will also ensures your asset distribution to heirs is carried out according to your intentions when you die and names a representative to handle debt obligations, final taxes, and other estate administrative duties. Dying without a will or "intestate" can lead to dire consequences.

Outdated wills, forms, and POAs create problems. If you made a will twenty years ago and have not reviewed and updated its contents, chances are many of the details no longer reflect current assets or beneficiaries. Estate planning is not a "set it and forget it" proposition. Reviewing estate planning documents and beneficiary forms every two years is generally adequate, barring a major life change such as divorce, birth, death, remarriage, or relocation to another state.

Beneficiaries without coordination can create expensive oversight. Beneficiary forms for retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, annuities, and life insurance policies may constitute a significant portion of your estate's assets. These beneficiary forms are legally binding and will supersede the contents of your will. Failure to update beneficiary forms can lead to an ex-spouse receiving assets that preferably would go to your heirs. Routine checks of all beneficiary designations are best practices for estate planning.

Failing to title trust assets properly can lead to probate. While not everyone requires a trust, those who do must carefully retitle their assets into the name of the trust. Forgetting to add more recently purchased property or opening a new account requires you to title them into the trust to receive trust benefits. Whether real estate, cash, mutual funds, or stocks, if you fail to move the asset into the trust, they become subject to the probate court, possible tax consequences (depending on the trust type), and a public record of these assets.

Life insurance can trigger estate tax. Life insurance can provide heirs with liquidity without the sale of assets and tax consequences when handled correctly. However, if a wealthy individual dies while maintaining ownership of their life insurance policy, they may inadvertently create a tax event for their heirs. Although life insurance death benefits are not subject to state or federal income taxes, any "incident" of ownership by the decedent can create an inheritance tax.

An estate planning attorney can help shelter life insurance proceeds from high-value estates by gifting the policy to an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) or draft a new trust to purchase a new policy where the trust is the owner and beneficiary. A policy owned by the trust does not create a taxable situation to death benefits. Your attorney's careful structuring of this trust type is complex but can provide proper protection.

Joint ownership of assets with your children can lead to disastrous consequences. Naming your children as co-owners of assets, even digital, permits their creditors to access your money. The better way to address the situation is to give your adult child power of attorney and assign them as a beneficiary to a payable on death bank or brokerage account. This tactic permits them to access your funds if required during your lifetime. However, it keeps your assets from your child's estate and away from their potential creditors.

Ultimately the biggest error you can make is not finding the right estate planning attorney to guide you. This specialized attorney receives training on avoiding probate, tax implications, and asset protection if you require long-term care. Proper planning with the right guidance will help you avoid costly estate planning mistakes and protect your family's future financial well-being.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

- Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

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