Long-term care planning involves many important decisions, and nothing is tougher than deciding how to involve your adult children in the process. It may be hard to view your children as responsible adults who can be trusted with your care, your money, and your future, no matter how much they have grown and matured. And if there are other problems in your relationship, the issues can become even more complex.
The first and most important issue is this: Who can you trust to look out for your best interests? If you reach a point when you cannot make decisions for yourself, who should act as your agent for financial decisions? What about health care decisions?
If you have more than one child, you must decide which child to name as your agent. Will you choose based on birth order, location, family status, ability, lifestyle, or other things? It is your life and your decision. If you do not fully trust your adult children, then by all means, do not give them authority under a power of attorney or name them as executor in your Will. Designate someone you do trust instead. You have complete control when selecting who will make decisions for you, both when you are living and after you are gone. If you don’t take advantage of that enormous opportunity, it may be necessary for the courts to make decisions for you.
The time may arise at which you are not competent to make decisions on your own, and a guardianship may be necessary. Most courts favor appointment of an adult child as the guardian. If your adult child should not be your guardian, then a prior written designation will inform the court of the proper person for that role. If that is the case, get it in writing now, before the issue arises. Waiting until your competence is in question is too late to have your wishes honored.
Aging is inevitable. Control what you can by choosing who will act on your behalf while you are living, and who will carry out your wishes after you are gone. If you trust your adult children, give them the gift of granting them that authority; if you do not, then name someone you do trust. The worst thing you can do is nothing. As Elder Law attorneys, we help clients sort through these issues every day. If you need help with your long-term care plans, please contact our office for a consultation.
Lori Leu, Erin Peirce, Lauren Olson, and Laura Chavero are Elder Law attorneys with Leu & Peirce, PLLC in Plano, Texas. They can be reached at 972-996-2540.