We are living longer and longer as a nation. Due to advancements in mainstream healthcare, technology and disease prevention, research shows the majority of Americans today will live to be well over 80 years old.

Although seniors are living longer than ever before, there have not been corresponding adjustments to government programs to help provide for their long-term care needs that can result from advanced age. Accordingly, many of the necessary services fall on family members to provide or pay for.  This is especially true with regard to caregiving for our parents and other elderly family members. Right now, the Family Caregiver Alliance’s National Center on Caregiving reports that 43.5 million caregivers are caring for someone over 50 years of age while 1 in every 5 American households are caring for another adult with long-term care needs.

Caring for a parent or other senior family member can cause a substantial financial strain as long-term health care costs continue to rise.   In addition, most of the care provided by adult children and family members to the seniors they love remains uncompensated.  A recent article in Forbes shared that caring for an aging parent in your home could cost you more than raising your own child to adulthood, and over the course of just four years as opposed to eighteen. The AARP shares that in 2013 alone, 40 million family caregivers provided 37 billion uncompensated hours at an estimate total cost of $470 billion dollars.

Today, we see two sides of this evolving dilemma for seniors and their adult children. On the one hand, there are adult children who are unable to maintain their demanding, full-time jobs due to the increasing care needs of their parents while, on the other hand, others must take on second jobs to pay for the increased costs of their multi-generational family. Even where a parent can afford to pay a child for care, there are complexities to be considered through planning.  For example, a child is still taxed on what is paid to him or her by their parent and is treated as an employee of the parent.

This reality means all of us need to discuss estate planning and long-term care planning in California with our parents sooner rather than later. Pre-planning, well in advance of a crisis, can help us alleviate many of the challenges we may face relating to providing care for our parents as they age. Where they will live, how they will pay for it, and who will take care of them, are just a few of the questions we should be asking now so we can have the answers ready when needed. Without time to complete thoughtful estate planning, making these decisions will be challenging for all members of our family.

While we understand this may be a hard conversation to start, you and your parents will be glad to have your estate planning in place when you need it most.

Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an estate planning attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is passionate about educating others about estate planning and how it can be used to protect what matters most. Subscribe to this blog or register for an upcoming FREE workshop to learn more.

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