In six of the ten metropolitan Atlanta counties, growth in the older population is exceeding growth in the general population. If you have parents, grandparents or other family members who are part of that older population, you may find yourself having to step in to take care of their finances or health care. Would you have a clue about what to do?
Members of the older generations often pride themselves on being independent and they keep their financial affairs private. They aren’t going to volunteer information, and may not take it well if you ask whether they have a legal and financial plan in place. If the conversation becomes unpleasant, you may decide to keep the peace and drop it.
You should think about what would happen if there were a diagnosis of dementia, or a serious illness, and they were no longer able to be independent. Would you be prepared?
Do you know if there is a Power of Attorney or an Advance Directive for Health Care? If those documents exist, do you have copies or know where to find them? Do you know if the Power of Attorney was done recently or ten years ago? In Georgia or the state where they used to live?
If they don’t have an effective Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive, and dementia sets in, it will be too late for those documents to be signed. That’s when you’ll find yourself in Court, filing for a Guardianship and Conservatorship. That process involves a court hearing, multiple attorneys, evidence presented, and thousands in court costs and legal fees.
If they object to seeing an attorney to have the necessary documents put into place because “it will cost too much”, you can explain to them that the money they save, plus a whole lot more, will probably have to be spent on legal fees and court costs down the road.
As hard as it might be to get the older generation to share information they consider private, it will be much harder to deal with the consequences if they don’t.