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“Thirty percent of adults do not know where their parents keep important papers such as their health insurance card, financial statements or will.”- Family Circle and Kaiser Foundation

It’s the beginning of a New Year. This the time of the year in which we should lay out a plan that is helpful for our families. As we age and live longer, financial, legal, health care and long term care issues affect families, not just individuals. The overview below addresses some key areas of concern, suggested questions to ask, and ways in which families might initiate conversations about these often difficult to discuss topics with their aging parents.

Key Considerations

  1. Find out what financial benefits are provided by your parents’ Social Security and pension. Determine if they are eligible for other financial programs.
  2. Be certain each family member has a living will. Know where all your parents’ insurance policies, wills, trust documents, tax returns, investment and banking records are located.
  3. Understand that Medicare generally does not cover long term care (e.g. nursing home or extended home care), and Medicaid pays only for low-income individuals.
  4. Investigate what type of long term care insurance coverage may be best for your parents or for yourself! Generally, premiums are lower when policies are purchased at younger ages.
  5. Identify what community services are available that can help your parents maintain independence in the home for as long as possible-such as home modification programs that can install assistive devices (i.e., bathroom rails and entry ramps), and home health and chore assistance. Learn whether housing options are available to meet their changing needs.
  6. Family members may not understand how their parents’ estate planning could impact their own financial status as well as that of their children.


    • Are pension savings from all jobs over the years being collected?
    • Is there a need to apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits?
    • Who can access your important financial information in case of emergency?
    • Where do you keep these important documents?


  • Do you have a will?
  • Have you executed a durable power of attorney or considered who you might want to handle your finances or health care decisions in the event that you are unable to so?
  • Are important legal documents up to date?
  • Where are these important documents kept?

Families may avoid potential problems and be in a good position to deal with later life needs by understanding and being prepared.

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