Helping a loved one to plan their estate is a common activity for adult children. This is never an easy topic to discuss, but it’s an important one. After all, as people that play a prominent role in the care of an elderly loved one, this segment of the population has a lot to benefit from with a properly planned estate. Even if there is not an inheritance involved, when end of life legalities are properly executed, many headaches are eliminated. This is not a time that anyone wants to spend trying to tie up loose ends, but rather grieve and be a comfort to others.
It might be a shock then, when you go with your parent to an attorney’s office to get the paperwork process started, and you are asked to wait outside while things are discussed. You did all of the work up to this point, it only makes sense that you be involved in the whole thing, right?
Wrong. In fact, it is considered unethical for an adult child of an elderly individual to be involved in the drawing of the paperwork. Even if you are the major decision maker in the family, and were the one who told your parent that this was something that they should consider doing in the first place, you should not be involved in the process at this latter stage.
This is because even though senior law is an area that impacts entire families, attorneys are still bound by ethical laws and guidelines to ensure that they do the right thing for their clients. Their responsibility, after all, is to act as an advocate for their clients and not the family of their client. Having a loved one in the room during a will planning session, for example, could potentially create a conflict of interest. For example, if you believe that someone in the family or a charitable cause that your parent supports does not deserve to be included in the will, but your parent does, your presence during this session will be a conflicted one. The attorney will ask you to wait outside because your presence is not necessarily in their client’s best interest. Even if you are well-intentioned, the attorney is still bound by these obligations.
Of course, there are times where you will want to be involved. If your mom suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, for example, they will not be able to make these kinds of decisions. Still, a legal process is needed to make sure that this is handled properly.
Having a loved one who is in declining health is tough. We know that. The legal side of things is just one of the issues that you will face. Medical care, in-home care, transportation, and many other things will also be of your concern. At Paradise In-Home Care, we can’t do it all, but we do try to take some of the burden off of your shoulders. Feel free to get in touch with us today if you have any questions that we can help you answer.