Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,506
Registered: ‎12-02-2013

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer


@Deb665 wrote:

Please make sure the lawyer is an Elder Law Attorney!




Elder law attorneys may not be the best ones to deal with inheritance issues, unless they are dual specialists.


DH is now a retired attorney and inheritance issues become more complex and youngsters become adults, marry, have their own children, divorce, become ill, remarry, etc.  it is important to have a lawyer that talk you through things that need to be taken into account as events will come to pass.


It is very tricky: this is why the Do It Yourself stock wills can cause unintended harm to those you want to protect and pass your wealth onto.  State laws change but folks are unaware and do not update stock wills.  May be even the company that produced them are out of business.


Protect yourself and those you love, whether human or institutions.




We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.
Sir Winston Churchill
Super Contributor
Posts: 312
Registered: ‎10-17-2011

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer


my dad died suddenly eight years ago and left not a big mess , but  things were a little chaotic to say the least where bank accounts and other accounts were concerned. My mother found money hidden away in the house in all different places. It's a good thing funeral costs could be covered with no problem. My mother thought at that time if something were to happen to her, she didn't want the same problems to arise and for her three daughters to have to deal with the same hassles. She has everything ready where funeral preparations, the beneficiaries, and the will are concerned.
now she has increasing dementia, so it's a good thing she made those arrangements then. 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,916
Registered: ‎07-18-2013

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer

The important take away here is to consult a lawyer and the right type of lawyer.  I know this because I am an elder law attorney with a healthcare background and extensive experience dealing with issues of aging and disability.  Absolutely, the parents aren't children and have rights and it is important to see that their wishes are followed.   A trust isn't always the right answer, as there is NO blanket right answer.   There are both federal and state laws and regulations in play here (and these can and do change) and not every attorney has the knowledge to deal with those implications.   About 1/3 of my practice has been trying to "fix" and make better the steps taken by another attorney.  


Any person may express an opinion in this thread, but I strongly caution giving any advice due to the complexity of this area of law. A trust may have been appropriate in one situation and state or a certain type of deed may be appropriate in one situation, but this same document could be disastrous in another case.   It doesn't hurt for the children to see an attorney to understand the legal issues with their aging parents.  Seeing the attorney doesn't mean that the parents have to do anything.  


I am not going to follow further because of the stress these discussions cause me.  

If my dog doesn't like you, neither do I.
Honored Contributor
Posts: 28,613
Registered: ‎05-10-2010

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer

@jlkz wrote:


@Deb665 wrote:

Please make sure the lawyer is an Elder Law Attorney!





She's not concerned about inheriting.  Her concern is with finding out who is designated to care for them in the event they cannot care for themselves or make decisions for themselves.  Living will, power of attorney, wills, even an address book with names of friends.  She's sure her father would have had plans but she would not have been apprised because her parents froze all their relatives out of their lives 25 years ago.  





Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,042
Registered: ‎08-31-2019

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer

No point in going to talk to an attorney, unless the parent, or parents, are willing to go with you and assist with the planning and willingly signing documents. Otherwise, all you will hear is what you can't do, unless the parent has dementia/Alzheimer's and has been declared incompetent per medical doc. Then that becomes complicated.


My mom had Alzheimer's. When visiting the attorney, he did a full orientation assessment before proceeding. I'm so thankful it wasn't too late.


She gave me POA to manage all of her needs and finances, plus all of her accounts were place in POD. I could access accounts to pay her bills and all I needed was ID to transfer funds on death.


She had a Will leaving me her home. When I went to sell it, the mortgage attorney said I needed no other authorization to sell her home. The Will was enough.


There really wasn't anything else that was required to take care of what was needed. It would have been very simple if not for the home. That required work to get it ready to sell.


Moral of this story is --- you're toast, if parents aren't willing to work with you. And, that's what the attorney will tell you, too.   

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,491
Registered: ‎11-15-2011

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer

The Atty can inform you which documents and actions you can take and which ones are most important.  I didn't know that beneficiaries override a Will.


Lots of info you need and it varies from State to State.


In Florida, a Court must declare incompetency, not just 2 Doctors' opinion or signature. 


I'll advise, go see an Elder Attorney!


Honored Contributor
Posts: 29,922
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer

@FancyPhillyshopper wrote:



Sorry, I do not know anybody receiving Medicaid, but I know there are very strict laws as the funding is quite specific.


If my parents were at that income level, I would be very, very sad, and would have done my best to assist them much sooner!


It also appears that those going to lawyers about their older parents probably did not assist them enough with their financial stability and paperwork while they were in good health.


My parents were very organized, saved well, and did not need or want my assistance.  My parents had all their paperwork in place, and were on top of all the legal and financial issues far in advance.


This was also the same with my grandparents.


I am happy to say my family all gets along quite well, and I have great trust in my siblings that we will all work together to support our family. 


My greatest concerns were always about the physical needs of my older family members, not, thank goodness, their financial needs.


@FancyPhillyshopper You said "It also appears that those going to lawyers about their older parents probably did not assist them enough with their financial stability and paperwork while they were in good health."


It's pretty insulting to the people whose parents did nothing, refused help, created issues that were unnecessary and got in a whale of a mess their kids spend money, time, angush and grief trying to sort out when sometimes the kids have no money, time and resources but have to do it.


You can't MAKE parents what they need to do. You can just worry about it and take grief for trying.




Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,877
Registered: ‎03-13-2010

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer

Power or Attorney ends at the grantor's death. ( once a person dies, the person who had POA no longer has POA.)


Amazing how many people don't know this.


Also amazing to me is couples who plan for retirement, and totally forget what happens when the first spouse go to ONE Social Security check, and become a single filer for income tax purpose, which means any other income you DO have becomes taxable at the lower single filer rate.



Yes it'll be the biggest of the two Social Security checks, but still, one is gone.


We are ALL one blood clot away  ( stroke) from someone else wishing we had accepted that we won't live forever and had made plans, much less in the state of mind able to navigate an increasingly complex financial landscape ( Social Security, Medicare, when to take SS,  income taxes after retirement,  understanding tax ramifications and withdrawal strategies for your brokerage accounts, picking a Medicare Advantage or Supplement plan, and losing a spouse and dropping to one Social Security check...can you live on one check? Many people in the US rely almost solely on SS....what a shock when one check disappears on death of first spouse.)


Does anyone know your burial wishes? Doesn't matter if your wishes are 'In my will"....the will many times isnt found and read for quite a time after the death and funeral...


Speaking of wills, does someone you trust KNOW where it is?!?!? If it's in a safe, who has the combo?


I'm sure I forgot something. That list is long enough!!!


You know what they say.... "You don't know what you don't know". 


Better to make plans while you still can, especially if you have ANY assets like a home, retirement accounts, bank accounts, annuities, valuables like gold coins, guns etc.


YES most bank and brokerages accounts pass via beneficiary, but people forget to change the beneficiaries when they divorce or remarry. Same with life insurance policies.


And if you're a single older woman, be prepared to be taken advantage of by everyone you have to hire.  Most of them can assess your ignorance in a heartbeat and convince you to add expensive additions for plumbing, heating,  home repairs, car repairs, etc.


It's brutal. But you can prepare.


@Sooner  excellent topic....because.....:


SO much to manage just at the time when cognitive decline begins....


How many people do you think are going to navigate the gimmicky Medicare Advantage Plans and Supplement plans EVERY YEAR in the fall when you can make changes?


Most will do what they do with car insurance....set it and forget it...which can be expensive.


O the joy of growing old!!!

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,633
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer

Before adult children go making consultations with lawyers they need to have an open and frank talk with their parents.  Hopefully the parents and the children can agree about informing and helping one another.  25 years ago, when my parents were in their mid 70s, I raised the issue with my Dad ( Mom already had signs of mild dementia).  My Dad was very relieved I brought up the issue; he had been pondering which of his 2 kids would do it or should we jointly do it. I replied " pick one; it wouldn't work for us to be a team on this. My Dad then immediately asked me to do it.  My parents and I went to an attorney who set up an estate plan and a trust.  Although my brother and I lived in CA and my parents lived in MD, everything went perfectly.  I buried both my parents in Arlington, sold their home, hired ( and sometimes fired) live in caregivers, moved my Mom into a convalescent home in CA once my Dad passed, filed the estate taxes and distributed their estate proceeds as per their wishes.  I also prepaid for both their funerals in advance (which I recommend).  DH and I set up our estate plan when we were in our 50s, had it reviewed once we left CA for our retirement home in AZ.  That's been 12 years and we feel it is once again time to update our trust ( these things are living documents and need to be tweaked occasionally.

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,874
Registered: ‎04-03-2016

Re: If you have aging parents see a lawyer

[ Edited ]

Niece just recently had her father pass away. She was close to him but as his friend became closer and moved in 5 years ago, her father became less and less available.  In the end the woman refused to let her see him. Fortunately hospice nurses saw the terrible injustice and allowed her and neighbors (they were also refused) sneak visits when possible.  She was also denied entry to home after death even though she was promised momentoes.  She has had to hire lawyer now.  It was sad at funeral for additional reasons.  I should mention father suffered from Parkinsons.