By Daniel Goodwin
Many parents may feel it is unnecessary to inform their adult children about their personal, financial affairs. However, as your children grow older, it can work to your advantage—and that of your entire family— to share with them key financial, medical, and estate planning information. An awareness of important information, and knowing where to locate relevant documents, can help your grown children take appropriate and timely action if a sudden death or catastrophic illness were to occur. Consider these issues:
Health Insurance. If you are age 65 or over, your adult children should be aware of any and all health insurance policies, as well as Medicare materials. There may be “Medigap” policies that go beyond the basic care coverage provided by disability income insurance policies and long-term care (LTC) policies. You may benefit greatly in an emergency if appropriate procedures are followed and necessary forms are submitted in a timely manner.
Living Will. This document specifies an individual’s preferences regarding the administering or withholding of life-sustaining medical treatment. Under many state statutes, a patient must be considered “terminal,” “permanently unconscious,” or in a “persistent vegetative state” before life support can be withdrawn. Copies of living wills should be made available to anyone who would be involved with the care of either parent, and the originals should be kept in a safe, readily accessible storage place.
Health Care Proxy. Similar to a living will, this instrument allows you to appoint another person as your “agent” to make health care decisions in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. Specific directions regarding medical procedures to be administered, withheld, or withdrawn can be made within the document. A copy should be readily available to the “agent.”
Durable Power of Attorney for Property. If you become disabled, who will manage your financial affairs? With a durable power of attorney in place, an individual or bank may act as an agent to oversee your financial affairs. Your grown children should know what steps have been taken to ensure the competent direction of your affairs, should the need arise. However, your children’s actual involvement with your affairs can be limited, if so desired.