(BPT) - Each year, thousands of Americans are thrust into the uncomfortable role of making long-term care decisions for their family members. These emotional decisions can create stressful situations for the entire family, in addition to being time-consuming and expensive.
Fortunately, there is a way to help reduce the stress connected to these situations: communication. Discussing plans for long-term care before the need arises can greatly reduce the stress that may arise while dealing with an illness or disability.
'Raising the subject may create some momentary awkwardness for both parents and their adult children,' says Dean Anderson, product leader at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. 'However, we believe it is far better to discuss long-term care options ahead of time and together decide what makes the most sense for the family."
Thrivent Financial recommends that families ask certain questions regarding long-term care:
* Does the person receiving care prefer to stay at home or at a care facility?
* Would a family member leave their job to care for a spouse or parent?
* How will long-term care expenses be covered?
* Is there a long-term care insurance policy in place?
Clear communication can help eliminate the problem of catching a spouse or adult child off guard. It can also help eliminate the burden of uncertainty with difficult decisions. Spelling out the location of insurance policies, as well as care wishes, ensures that family members have the information they need to provide for their loved one's desired care.
Create a financial and care inventory
The holidays also serve as a good time to update family members on the location and status of financial and care documents. Having an inventory of financial and health care documents provides family members with a roadmap to critical information. It is focused on the 'where' information on financial holdings can be found, not specific details about the financial holdings. The inventory is not a legal document, and it need not divulge personal or confidential details that you are not prepared to share. It should, however, enable loved ones to quickly locate where you keep your financial, legal, care and legacy records should a crisis occur.
This inventory should be updated at least annually, and copies should be given to family members, a lawyer or executor - or placed in a secure location where those who might need it can access it.
While each family's inventory will differ, the inventory should include information related to where someone can find the following:
1. Living wills/health care directives
2. Insurance contracts (health, life, long-term care, annuities, auto, homeowners, etc.)
3. Wills, trusts and deeds
4. Bank accounts and investments/investment accounts
5. Credit card accounts and outstanding debt
6. Contact information for lawyers, accountants, brokers, agents
7. Jewelry and other valuables
8. Essential keys
9. Instructions related to funeral arrangements
10. Personal instructions or messages
11. Location of birth, marriage and military discharge certificates
12. Information related to charitable gifts
While it may be a difficult topic to bring up, broach the subject while gathered with your family members. Open and honest communication about long-term care and other financial uncertainties may be one of the best gifts you give this season.
Individuals interested in contacting a local Thrivent Financial representative can find more information at www.thrivent.com.