As a private client solicitor, I see people from all walks of life who realise the importance of making plans for the future.
There remains, however, one group of individuals who appear to feel disconnected from the problems that older age can bring; The Young.
Anecdotal evidence points to the fact that anxieties over Brexit, an ever-widening gap between house prices and salaries, and a belief that there’s no point planning for an uncertain future are leading to an avoidance by 20, 30 and 40-somethings of making vital long-term plans.
While the younger generation may choose to put off preparing their own contingency plans, it is so important that they are up to speed with those of their parents.
Those that fail to have ‘the chat’ run the risk of being unable to ensure their parents’ wishes are carried out as they would want them to be at a later date.
Fortunately, the Christmas period tends to offer plenty of opportunity to catch up with our loved ones. With that in mind, I’ve pulled together a list of suggested conversations you might want to raise with your parents:
1) Have you made plans for your future?
Never an easy question to ask, so it might help by explaining to your parents that you’ve been considering your own plans, and wondered if they had been through that process. They might actually be relieved that you’ve raised the topic.
2) What legal documents have you made?
If a will is not worded or executed correctly – a process that should be overseen by a specialist solicitor – it can lead to problems at a later date. Also, wills only cover what happens when somebodies dies and not what would happen if they became mentally incapacitated and their affairs needed dealing with. In cases such as those, without a power of attorney, even joint bank accounts could be frozen, causing huge problems for the person left behind.
3) Who are the key people we should know of?
Solicitors, financial advisors and accountants are just some of the professionals your parents may have dealt with in relation to the handling of their financial and medical affairs. Ask your parents for a copy of their names and contact details.
4) Where can we find your legal, financial and insurance documents?
Should the worst happen, you’d need to know where important documents such as wills, Deeds and bank statements are kept. Discussing this now means an easier task later. .
5) How do you feel about care homes?
While not a move most people actively want to make, sometimes a move into a care home is the best option for all concerned. Take the time to discuss how your parents would feel, should this situation unfold. You might be surprised at their response.
6) At what point would you want medical treatment to be withdrawn?
Without a health and welfare power of attorney, relatives have no overriding power to make decisions as to whether medical treatment continues, but often doctors will discuss it with them. Although a particularly difficult conversation to have, it is one, nonetheless, which needs to take place.
7) What are your funeral wishes?
Arranging a funeral can be difficult if you do not know what your loved one’s wishes were. Often people are very clear as to whether they want to be cremated or buried but the finer details such as hymns or songs are seldom discussed.