Remote Planning: You & Your Out-of-state Parents

December 16, 2020 Austin F DuBois

Over the years, we watch retirement take mom and dad south, we take job offers that pull us in new directions. We adjust to these things; find new ways to stay in touch and to be involved. But, when you live in a different state from aging parents, not being there can be a difficult strain in many respects, especially when it comes time to weighing in on important financial, health care, and day-to-day decisions.

I tell people in this situation that there is extreme value in “being there” – whether that be virtually or in-person – when you work proactively with your parents and an elder law attorney on their long-term planning. When parents choose to involve their children in handling their personal matters, having a qualified elder law attorney to watch over the collective effort can be economically and emotionally beneficial.

The first step is simply making sure your parents are on board.
Conversations about health and wealth can be awkward and people can be guarded about the details.

Start from where you are. Ask your parents what kind of long-term planning they have done, and if they’ve consulted with any professionals. If your parents have already begun some planning, it doesn’t hurt to suggest having those existing documents – which may have been prepared years ago under totally different circumstances – reviewed by an elder lawyer today.

Talk about establishing Power of Attorney.
Gauge how much they need, or invite, your involvement. Ideally, this initial exploratory process will lead to you and your parents agreeing to establish Power of Attorney through a lawyer, one who is trusted by everyone involved with the planning. Once I establish power of attorney in this type of situation, then I can help the parents and that designated person take an important next step.

Helps to have legal documents filed.
Filing essential health care documents with your physician and attorney will make for a more fluid care process by providing easy access to these important materials.

               Health Care Proxy: appoints one person (and ideally a backup) to make health care decisions for someone who is unable to do so for themselves. Naming a person in a Health Care                                Proxy avoids having those decisions made solely by unrelated staff at a medical facility or a court.

               Living Will: an expression of the sort of treatment someone wants, or does not want, to receive if they are alive but unable to express their desires.

               HIPAA Release: designates the people who may receive otherwise protected health information that health care providers must otherwise keep confidential.

From this point, we can help families create an appropriate long-term care plan and make sure they don’t go broke doing it. Should health care costs mount, we would be prepared. Should in-home care need to become assisted living, we will have planned for this eventuality.

When we work with a family that gets engaged and are all on the same page, the whole process results in a sound plan that builds a sense of confidence and peace of mind that’s invaluable. Providing a path to that level of comfort between loved ones who have hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles between them is what this process is all about.

Communication is key. Stay connected.
With a sound plan in place and everyone on the “planning committee” dedicated to a common goal – mom and dad being able to take it easy – the best tool for maintenance is open and clear communication. Keep the dialogue amongst family open and communicate any questions and needs clearly to the health care and financial professionals you’ve hired to provide their services. On our end, we ask families to check in with us on an annual basis – although we’re available any time for our clients – just to review any changes or developments.

At DuBois Law Group, we’re particularly proud of how quickly we were able to pivot to all-remote client meetings when COVID-19 changed the way we do just about everything last March. The truth is, we’ve been equipped to maintain the lines of remote communication between us and our clients since the day we opened our doors. Only seamless service will do when people trust you with their long-term planning and care… especially for all of those interstate families out there.

If you and your out-of-state parents would like to begin, or continue, the conversation about long-term planning, we would be happy to begin with a consultation. Call us today.