Discussing long-term care of loved ones during the holidays in New York

As families prepare for the upcoming holidays, many are planning meals, parties, travel arrangements and, most importantly, guest lists. For most New Yorkers, it is pretty easy to decide which family members they want included in their festivities. However, if you were to ask those same people whom they consider family for estate planning and long-term care purposes, they may have a more difficult time answering.

Need for caregivers

As the nation's population ages, more and more individuals are drawn into caregiver roles for aging family members. While many adult children are happy to provide care for their elderly parents, the additional duties can cause heavy financial burdens that they can ill afford.

Do not assume that a particular sibling is willing or able to take in an aging parent or favorite elderly aunt. Often, the caregiver must leave his or her job - or reduce the number of hours he or she works - in order to provide for loved ones. Failing to plan for fair distribution of the cost and time needed to care for family can drive a wedge between siblings or other extended family members.

Elder care planning

As New York families gather this time of year, they may wish to discuss end-of-life issues for aging loved ones for the upcoming year. These issues may include home care for elders or those with special needs, nursing home options and caregiver roles. Most people shy away from these difficult conversations, but failing to talk about long-term care planning can be financially and emotionally devastating.

In-home and nursing home care costs are often overwhelming and too many families are ill-prepared to cover these expenses. A little planning can go a long way to alleviate the burden. Have "the talk" while families are together and discuss - as best you can - the following issues:

  • Who will care for an aging family member?
  • How will his or her care be funded?
  • Who will receive personal items such as furniture, heirloom china or jewelry once that person needs to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility?
  • Will the chosen caregiver receive compensation from the estate for services provided?

Frank discussions held before there is a need for such planning can go a long way to easing the path to healthy solutions for those you love. During such family meetings, try to keep everyone calm and focused on options. The goal is to provide security and protection for the aging family member, not to air family grievances.

A lawyer can help

Often, such family meetings can be difficult without the presence of a trusted advisor. An experienced New York elder law attorney can assist you and your family prepare for the inevitable. A lawyer knowledgeable about nursing home and in-home care, probate and estate administration and end-of-life planning can help.