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New Study Offers Evidence that Children Don’t Understand Parents’ End-Of-Life Needs

Senior couple retirement planning

If you’re an adult child of aging parents, you might be avoiding having conversations with them about difficult topics such as hospice care, or how they want their money to be handled when they are incapacitated by senility or injury. If this is the case, you’re certainly not alone. A survey conducted by Fidelity Investments found that more than half of all parents and adult children are not on the same page when it comes to these end-of-life issues.

The Family and Finance report includes the results of conversations that researchers had with one adult child and one parent from each included family. The researchers found that families had often not discussed important subjects at all, or that children did not understand what sort of assistance their parents expected in their older years. For example, 50% of the adult children surveyed stated that they had never talked about a will with their parents, though 69% of parents said that they had. 75% of parents had assumed that their children would manage their long-term care, though only 35% of children anticipated taking on this role. 30% of all families surveyed disagreed on whether or not the children knew where to find their parents’ will, advance directive, or other important documents. 90% of parents planned to ask one of their children to be the executor of their will, but 27% of children did not realize they’d be asked to take on the role. The majority of parents –70% –expect their children to help with their retirement finances, investments, household budgets and bills, but 36% of children didn’t know their parents wanted a hand with their investments, and 44% didn’t know their parents expected assistance with home budgets.

These tough conversations can seem daunting, but they must be addressed while your parents are still mentally capable of making these sorts of decisions for themselves. You may be intimidated by the emotional weight of these conversations, or by the fact that you’re not sure how best to approach these important choices and accompanying legal issues. An attorney with a focus on elder law can help guide you through these conversations, raising important questions and memorializing your parents’ decisions in a will or trust, or in an advance directive specifying end-of-life treatment preferences. Having these conversations and putting your parents’ decisions in writing can offer peace of mind to both children and parents.

If you are in need of help with long-term care, estate planning, or other end-of-life legal issues, contact the seasoned and compassionate West Palm Beach elder law and special needs attorneys at Shalloway & Shalloway, P.A. for a consultation, at 561-686-6200.

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