If you believe your parent or loved one is exhibiting signs of diminished mental capacity, then you may need to start considering how to help them take care of their affairs. Some common signs are memory loss or disorientation. If you notice these signs or any others, you may need to take action. Having a plan is the wisest thing to do because, as your Kansas City elder law attorney, we can tell you there will likely be some hard issues ahead. But, we can help.
How to start the incapacity planning conversation with your loved one
Before you begin this delicate conversation, you should consider speaking with any other family members involved to be sure you are in agreement about what steps need to be taken. Before you approach your loved one, you should resolve any disagreements or misunderstanding so that you can present a united front. This will substantially reduce the risk that your loved one will be on the defensive when the conversation begins. That doesn’t necessarily mean your entire family must be involved.
Keep them involved in the decisions as best you can
The planning is much easier if your loved one can still participate to some degree in the decision-making. If that is possible in your situation, the next step should be to talk with a Kansas City elder law attorney to discuss the elements of the estate or incapacity plan that should be included. In order to maintain transparency, it is wise to include all siblings in the discussions, if at all possible.
Try to balance the need for safety with the need for autonomy
It can certainly be a challenge trying to balance the need of your loved ones to maintain their independence, while also taking steps to secure their safety. There are different ways to approach this issue and what works will depend on the types of issues that need addressing. Many times, when a more formal guardianship is required or even being considered, the potential of losing independence will be a concern for seniors. Remember that a guardianship should not be the choice simply because your parent or other loved one makes a decision that you do not agree with. Nor should a guardianship be sought based solely on a certain medical diagnosis.
Resolving family disagreements regarding care
What happens when siblings or other family members cannot agree on certain aspects of a parent’s incapacity plan? Regrettably, some families disagree every time they try to discuss an incapacity plan for a loved one. Not every dispute can be easily resolved, but if you make sure everyone has all of the necessary facts, that can go a long way toward resolution. The truth is, some disputes arise merely from miscommunication or misunderstandings. Another way to resolve some disputes is to ask a Kansas City elder law attorney to help clarify the issues.
Help your loved one to still feel in control
A common concern for some families is trying to help their parents or other loved ones feel less like they are losing control of their lives, and more like they are just receiving the help they need. The trick to handling many elder law issues is to keep them from feeling like everyone is taking over. There are two ways you can approach this predicament. If your loved one is still mentally competent then you should definitely involve them in their own estate and incapacity planning. If their mental capacity is fading, then at least allow them to exert their authority or control in any way possible, no matter how small.
Handling a parent who does not want to cooperate
For some, their elderly loved ones become more unwilling to discuss their affairs or pass on control to anyone to any degree. For those who are unwilling to cooperate, you may have to handle some matters without involving them, to the degree you can. As long as your loved one is still legally competent, their agreement is required, but once they have become incapacitated, then you may need to get the court involved, if an incapacity plan is not already in place.
A Kansas City elder law attorney can provide the help and support you need
Elder law attorneys routinely handle the types of issues seniors face. For instance, an elder law attorney can address issues relating to nursing home care, estate planning, and guardianships. Elder law attorneys obtain specific training and experience in handling the relevant legal issues affecting seniors. For this reason, elder law attorneys are better equipped to understand and meet the needs of their elder clients and their families.
If you have questions regarding elder law issues, or any other estate planning matters, contact Gaughan & Connealy for a consultation either online or by calling us at (913) 262-2000.