Queen-LatifahWe may not think about it often, but even celebrities take care of their aging parents. For example, actress, singer, and songwriter Queen Latifah plays an active role in caring for her mother, Rita Owens, who was diagnosed with heart failure more than 10 years ago.

Owens learned of her condition when she passed out at work one day. She moved from New Jersey to California to recover and be close to her daughter. There, Queen Latifah cared for her mom and acted as a coordinator for a network of healthcare providers, family, and friends.

After her recovery, Owens was able to return to her home in New Jersey. Now, the two are working with the American Heart Association to raise awareness of heart failure.

Queen Latifah’s story is far from unique, and can help you remember that if you are a caregiver of an elderly or sick parent, you are not alone. And there are resources available to support you.

AARP reports of a study that found more discontent in relationships between U.S. elderly parents and their adult caregivers than in five other countries. In the U.S., 20% of the relationships were rated as disharmonious. In the five other countries surveyed-England, Germany, Israel, Norway, and Spain-less than 10% were similarly ranked. Here in the US, it is sadly “normal” for caregivers of elderly or sick parents to feel frustrated, unappreciated, and resentful. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. With advance planning, strong communication, and family coordination, the potential for a disharmonious relationship can be greatly reduced.

Proper planning should not only account for the legal issues involved, but also the personal and interpersonal issues, too. Schedules should be worked out, structures put in place, and legal documents prepared. Getting your lawyer involved early in the process ensures all issues are identified, contingencies prepared for, and the transition into caregiving is as easy as possible for both you and your parents.

Dedicated to your family’s health, wealth, and happiness,
Marc Garlett 91024

Long-term care 91024Much has been written about our nation’s need to help mothers in the workplace. Many benefits, such as maternity leave and nursing stations, are present or well on their way towards implementation in many U.S. states. And with employees working later in life, due, in part, to the rise in the regular Social Security retirement age, it is becoming increasingly important that we start to talk about the crisis facing the other end of the spectrum: America’s working daughters, many of whom are also mothers.

According to the Census Bureau, 44 million unpaid eldercare providers work in the U.S. Many of these people are family caregivers: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2013-2014, “[t]here were 6.3 million elder care providers who cared solely for someone with whom they lived.”

The impact on working daughters is significant. In addition to lost wages, Social Security and retirement benefits drop when women earn less due to caregiving responsibilities. And that’s only for the women who are fortunate enough to stay in their current positions. Many must quit their jobs or take less demanding, lower-paying work so that they can care for their elderly family members.

By planning in advance, you can mitigate the risk that caregiving an elderly parent will have on your family.

It begins with getting comfortable talking with your parents (or your children if you are in the senior generation), openly and honestly about late in life care. When families work together there doesn’t need to be a burden, but instead the whole family can create a plan that most effectively uses the family’s resources to create an outcome that supports everyone.

We can look at these issues proactively with your family during a Family Estate Planning Session, which is what sets us apart from other law firms which are typically only focused on creating legal documents to pass on financial assets after you (or senior family members) die.

When handled the proactive way, however, estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it’s for all families who want to work together to use their resources in support of intergenerational well-being.

Dedicated to your family’s health, wealth, and happiness,
Marc Garlett 91024

Wills and Trusts 91024“Black Heirlooms” has not received any Oscar nominations even though it is filled with award winning lessons about family. The film was made by 32-year-old Amanda Brown, whose grandmother’s long-term illness ripped her once close-knit family apart for lack of long-term care planning.

Profiled recently in the New York Times, Brown’s film is “about the extended uncomfortable, intergenerational conversations that we do not have enough of and that her family did not have until it was too late.”

Vonley and Edna Mae Royal raised eight children together. Vonley had several businesses during life that provided a small inheritance for his wife after he died. Following his death, the Royal children tried to get Edna Mae to talk about how she wanted the estate divided after she died. She proved resistant to such a discussion, however, and so her children backed off. “We didn’t want to give her the impression that we were trying to gain some kind of advantage,” said her son Gary.

Unfortunately, Edna Mae had a stroke in 2009. Shortly thereafter her children became divided on how she should be taken care of, whether or not she could make decisions for herself, and who should have power of attorney over her affairs. The family eventually wound up in court, exhausting any inheritance they might have had on legal fees and dividing the children.

Today, 90-year-old Edna Mae is taken care of by five of her eight children; the other three do not speak to their siblings and rarely see their mother. The inheritance that Vonley and Edna Mae worked so hard to provide to their children is gone. In the film, Edna Mae’s granddaughter Amanda wonders, “Now that the family is divided, what was the point of working so hard to keep everything intact?”

If you have been putting off this type of conversation in your family, we can help. Executing a comprehensive estate plan can be extremely fulfilling, knowing you are providing and protecting an inheritance for your children, making your wishes known and alleviating your family of the burden of guessing the right health care choices for you.

If you would like to learn more about estate planning for your family, we can help. We can also assist you with that all-important family discussion (which could just be one of the most important discussions your family ever has).

To your family’s health, wealth, and happiness,
Marc Garlett 91024

Long-term care 91024This Thanksgiving holiday, as multi generations of my family gather together, I can’t help but reflect on the lifetime of love and support my parents have provided to me and my children. I’m also very aware of their own special issues. Did you know, a person who turns 65 today has a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care at some time in their remaining years? That’s according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and on average, women will need 3.7 years of long-term care while men will need 2.2 years of care. Only 20%, however, will need care for longer than five years.

If you or your parents don’t have the financial resources to pay for this long-term care – either through a nursing home stay or in-home care – you should consider long-term care insurance to fill the void. And while annual premiums will vary according to your age and health status, they can all be fairly expensive.

Here are some tips to reduce the cost of long-term care insurance:

Buy young. Since premiums rise as you age, purchasing a long-term care policy when you are younger can mean cheaper premiums. Just be sure you are aware that premiums can increase as you age, so be sure to discuss this with your insurer.

Shorten the benefit period. Lifetime policies are the most expensive, and since statistics show that most of us will not need long-term care for more than five years, you can save thousands of dollars in premiums if you buy a short-term policy.

Lengthen the elimination period. Most policies have a 30-90 day waiting period before coverage begins. If you can make this period longer, your premiums will be cheaper.

Reduce daily benefits. If you can pay for some of your long-term care needs yourself, you can reduce the daily benefit amount on your policy, which will result in lower premiums.

Share the care. If you are married and both of you are buying long-term care insurance, a shared care policy could provide you both with more coverage for less money. A shared care policy provides a pool of benefits that are shared between you and your spouse, so if you buy a 5-year shared care policy, the two of you would have 10 years of benefits. If your spouse only uses 3 years, you would have 7 years of benefits to use.

Take the deduction. Your long-term care insurance premiums may be deductible. If they meet the requirements for “qualified” long-term care expenses, they can be deductible, with the amount depending on your age and tax year. For 2014, the long-term care premium deductibility limits are $1,400 for those more than 50 but not more than 60, $3,720 for those more than 60 but not more than 70, and $4,660 for those over 70.

To learn more about long-term financial planning for your – or your parent’s – golden years, give me a call and let’s chat over a cup of coffee.

To you family’s health, wealth, and happiness,
Signature - Marc