Estate Planning Steps to Take When an Aging Parent Has Cancer

Parent with cancer
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Have you recently been told by your aging parent that he or she has cancer?  When you learned this devastating news, did questions rush through your head? Questions like:  How much time does my parent have? What do I need to do? Is there a cure in sight? What health care needs will my aging parent have now? What can I do to help? Does my parent need a second opinion? These are probably just the beginning of a list of questions you need answers to in the coming days. 

We are experienced Florida estate planning attorneys, and we know just how concerning a cancer diagnosis is. Now is the time to not only think about the health care needs of your aging parent but it is also time to think proactively about your aging parent’s future. We encourage you to ask the following questions as you begin the steps toward estate planning:

  • Does your aging parent have a Florida estate plan in place?
  • Is it up-to-date and does it reflect his or her wishes?
  • Are there advanced directives in place, such as a durable power of attorney?
  • Who does your aging parent want to make financial decisions if he or she cannot?
  • Who does your aging parent want to make his or her health care decisions if he or she cannot?
  • Is there a need for a backup decision maker?
  • Does your aging parent want life sustaining measures taken? 

Are you also questioning whether or not your aging parent will be able to care for himself or herself?   Are you also concerned and have serious questions about how to find and pay for your aging parent’s necessary care, now and in the future as his or her healthcare needs change. Be aware that healthcare support can come in all forms for your aging parent. You should consider options in the community such as:

  • Meal delivery programs
  • Transportation assistance to go to doctor appointments and treatments
  • Hiring a housekeeper
  • Medication management assistance and prescription delivery
  • In home assistance programs

The task of finding care for your aging parent can be a heavy responsibility, and one in which you may have to reach out for help when you work full time and have a family of your own. The health of your aging parent may also decline to the point where he or she cannot live alone or need to be in a safe environment such as an assisted living facility or nursing home. While the first step is identifying the care your aging parent needs, the next one is to find the funds to pay for it. 

Have you discussed with your aging parent his or her ability to pay for the care he or she may need? Medicare and Medicaid, for instance, may provide financial assistance with a cancer diagnosis. While Medicare and Medicaid are different programs, they can help in different ways. Medicare is the health insurance program for adults over age 65. Many of the available Medicare plans pay up to 80% of the costs of all of the doctor’s visits and diagnostic tests that come prior to a cancer diagnosis, until the health insurance deductible is met. Medicare may then cover the remaining costs for the pre-diagnosis visits. This can make Medicare very useful for patients with cancer until long-term care is necessary. Unfortunately, Medicare has a limited nursing home benefit, paying only for 100 days of care.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. The experienced team of attorneys here at Hemness Faller, The Law Office formerly known as Emma Hemness, P.A., are here for you and your family and we want to be YOUR estate planning and elder law attorneys. After all, we are ordinary people, providing extraordinary guidance backed by years of experience and advocacy for the vulnerable citizens in our community. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.