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Discuss long term care planning with elderly parents

Colorado residents with aging parents may be in the dark when it comes to what they know about their parents' finances and final wishes. But when it comes to long term care planning, asking the right questions sooner rather than when it is too late makes all the difference.

Many seniors have done little planning for their final years. Considering that the costs associated with providing end-of-life care continue to rise significantly, this lack of preparation can be costly. Genworth insurance company estimates that the average cost of a private room in a nursing facility was almost $84,000 in 2013. Having that frank discussion with elderly parents about the assets they have allocated for long term care and final expenses is difficult but necessary, especially when you and your siblings may need to supplement their care financially.

Depending on government assistance through programs like Medicaid is dicey at best. That program is designed to provide bare-bones coverage for those who are indigent or have very few resources. However, for some, a Medicaid trust may be the best option available.

Hospice care is available to those whose diagnoses are considered terminal. Hospices are staffed by professionals in fields of medicine and social work. They provide many medical supplies and offer in-home aides to assist with activities of daily living. But hospice care is usually only offered when it is reasonable to assume that a patient has a year or less to live. Some diseases, such as Alzheimer's, can debilitate patients for years and run care costs up into the six figures.

An estate planning attorney who is not emotionally or financially invested in your elderly parents' situation can offer impartial advice that includes options they can afford on their retirement budgets. It may also be easier for parents to discuss legacies and inheritances with someone who is not a family member.

Source: MarketWatch, "5 financial lessons from a parent’s last days" Charles Passey, Jun. 07, 2014

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