In today’s webinar, we will host a conversation on taking care of a loved one or our aging parents. Taking care of a spouse or our aging parents is one of the most important roles we will take on during our lifetime, it’s also one of the most daunting and demanding roles we will ever experience. The expenses associated with care and later years of life can become a tremendous burden on families.
You can have a care plan in place before things happen, though. Looking ahead and preparing now should be a part of every financial plan. If you have parents that are getting up there in their years, preparing and making decisions on their care before a crisis happens is the best-case scenario. Big dreams for your family require a plan. Carrying well today could bring your parents, your siblings, and you big rewards in your future.
At the end of today’s conversation, we hope you’ll feel a lot more confident and relaxed about your loved one’s future, especially in providing the dignity and independence for someone you care most about in their later years. Now, a little information for you before we begin. During the webinar, please ask any questions you may have through the question and answer feature on our Zoom screen. Looking on the Q&A button at the bottom of the Zoom screen will allow you to type in your questions. Any questions that we can not get to today will be addressed directly by our Cogent team soon after the event.
Those of you who don’t know me, I’m Kelly Stanley, Wealth Advisor at Cogent Strategic Wealth. I am joined today by my colleague, Michael Evans, Founder and Fiduciary Wealth Manager at Cogent. Together, Michael and I provide financial and investment strategies to high-achieving professionals for securing your financial welcome, Michael.
Michael Evans: Kelly, thank you.
Kelly: We are also very excited to welcome our special guests today, Katie Casey and Erin Vogt of Dutton, Casey & Mesoloras. Katie Casey is one of only a few certified elder law attorneys here in Illinois. She devotes a substantial portion of her time, helping families care, plan for the care of a loved one with a chronic care need. Erin Vogt is an in-house licensed clinical social worker who’s also a certified care manager working with Katie and their team to address quality of care and other issues that clients face.
Michael and I, and even more importantly, our Cogent client families benefit from Katie and Erin’s abilities and insights, utilizing their teams capabilities to deliver customized estate planning and elder law solutions to fit the unique circumstances of our professional clients and their parents’ situations. Katie Casey and Erin Vogt, welcome to Cogent Strategic Wealth caring well webinar.
Katie Casey: Hi, Kelly and Michael. We’re excited to be here.
Erin Vogt: Absolutely, thank you.
Kelly: Wonderful. Well, I’m now going to turn it over to my partner, Michael Evans.
Michael: Oh, Kelly, thank you. I really appreciate your setting the stage there for what we want to accomplish for you, you, the participant today. As you mentioned earlier, none of us want to think about the health hurdles that our parents could possibly face in the future and it’s just uncomfortable to do that yet. We are also the ones that see friends and family members going through such stressful, hard times with the challenges that sometimes unexpectedly crop up in other’s lives.
If you’re a busy professional, someone who just has an important role in family career community, just so many obligations and just so many responsibilities, you’re probably the one that’s thinking now, what can I do to make sure that my parents are taken care of in the way that they want to be. How can I feel compelled or prepared to be appropriately set up for myself, and at the same time, how can I help my aging parents face the important and difficult things that may come?
What we really want you to get out of today is we want you to feel just as I did, that you had a plan in place before the crisis occurs. I’ll tell you a story. In 2004, I started to notice that my own parents were aging and started to have a few minor medical issues coming up. I decided, myself, to take the time to get a better grasp on the philosophy that they had and what they wanted to live and how the tenants of their life, their philosophy of what was important to them.
I decided to address those critical issues with them. I wrote them each a letter separately asking them to sit down with me, educate me on what was important to them, what were their values, what were their goals, and maybe even what scared the heck out of them, and ask them to inform me to enlighten me on what’s important and how this should play out. At the time, unbeknownst to me and really quite ironically, my father was just about to get a horrible diagnosis subsequent to that conversation. It was to take him just a few months later that he would pass from that cancer diagnosis.
I got to tell you, it just was so wonderful for me to have that conversation before, to proactively talk to one of my parents. I wound up talking to both, but just a few days of just sitting down over lunch and understanding how they would like things to play out. Today, I want you to feel that same empowered feeling. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to walk with your parents through a very difficult time, but I will say that knowing what they wanted, how they wanted it, and how the other siblings and others in your family can work, can help and what their expectations were, having those critical discussions made it so much easier, at least, at that level for me and my family.
Preparing to care in advance of a crisis always gives you the ability to control the few things you can control, but it also allows you to help your parents maintain. As I heard from my family, especially my father, I want to maintain my independence and quality of life as long as I can. All of us assume important roles. There is no more important role than helping a family member through a crisis. It can be daunting, demanding, and all that. Today, we want to offer you a conversation, a conversation with Katie and Erin, two experts on the solutions that you might want to consider, in advance, of addressing the elder law and estate planning challenges for you and for your parents long in advance.
I hope this webinar is a great investment for you. I hope it’s well worth it for you. I hope it pays dividends for you and your family and I hope that the process gives you some solace and confidence to go into this with the ability to just say, I better understand where my parents are at and how they want this to play out. With that, I’d like to start today, our caring well conversation. Katie, I’m going to start with you. Kelly and I coordinate a state planning all the time with every single one of our clients and with ourselves, but we know that there’s something even different about your offering, about an elder law attorney. How are you different from an estate planning attorney?
Katie: Oh, great question, Michael. You know how every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square. Every elder law attorney is an estate planning attorney, but not every estate planning attorney is an elder law attorney. We have different approaches and we have different competencies. Elder law attorneys are competent at so many other areas of law, which significantly impact clients who are aging.
For example, long-term care planning, special needs planning, Medicaid, guardianships, assisted living, facility contracts, nursing, home issues, and problems to name just a few. We have a different approach in addition to different competencies in that, we are with our clients from beginning to end we’re with multiple generations of clients in all of the capacities of aging that affect them.
You might’ve noticed that some of the elder law attorneys practicing are known as CELAs or certified elder law attorneys, which means that they’ve passed a really difficult written examination and they’ve been recommended by their peers and they’ve passed a pretty rigorous application process. They’re really considered to be the gold standard in elder law. There are only very few of them in Illinois. It’s good to look for a certified elder law attorney if you’re looking for an elder law attorney.
Michael: That’s fantastic. What great information. I just like to say, Katie, that we’ve engaged with you and with other certified elder law attorneys. I must say that the expertise and all that has absolutely shown through from our side addressing it with our clients.
Katie, you did a phenomenal job of explaining that, but now you have a team wrapped around you, it’s just not you, what role do your team members, much like in Cogent, Kelly and I have a team along with Liz Winkle, and then we partner out with the professionals that our clients either have engaged with or we are going to introduce. How can your firms such as experts such as Erin and others, what benefits are there to your clients, and hours that would engage with you?
Katie: We really strongly believe in teamwork, Michael, just like you and we believe in building a team around our clients and their families as they plan and as they age. Some of that teamwork we can actually provide in-house like through our social worker, Erin, other team members, we bring in from the outside, like you like wealth managers and financial advisors and certified public accountants, geriatric care managers. Many professionals really have a huge impact.
We recognize that as attorneys, we’re limited professionally, we have a very specific role to play. It’s just a tiny part of the pie and it’s one of the reasons why we have a full-time social worker on staff. We recognize the value that Erin adds to our practice as a social worker, supporting our clients with non-legal resources and information, communication skills, and assistance, and very difficult decision-making processes. Erin’s role is really critical for our families on an in-house basis. I should let her describe to you how she works her magic for us.
Erin: Thank you, Katie. The first thing that I think differentiates us and allows me to be part of an attorney team is the holistic manner in which we serve our clients. I talk to every single client that calls our firm for assistance because many times, people need resources immediately. Maybe there’s a new diagnosis, maybe there’s a crisis going on. It may take a little bit for me to get them in with the attorney, not that long, but we need to serve them immediately.
By doing that immediate hand-holding, whether it’s on the phone or video conference, we’re supporting individuals immediately. Then throughout the entire process with the attorneys, I’m involved for resources coordination, as Katie mentioned, helping sometimes make very difficult decisions, interfacing with the attorneys, giving them maybe a different viewpoint or additional knowledge that they may not have received initially with the clients. It’s, I would say, extremely collaborative service for our clients because we want to be there for them and that’s what I’ll say. I’ll just say that it fills my spirit as a social worker to work with the team and provide the holistic service that we do.
Kelly: Wonderful. Thank you, Erin, for sharing that. As advisors, Michael and I are always looking forward to the future and planning for what may come. Katie, I’ll turn it back to you and ask you, what exactly does it mean to prepare to care? What exactly is involved in that process?
Katie: We’re preparing to care for our loved ones because we love them and there are five main steps to preparing to care that the first one, Michael, you really touched on the importance, not just the relevancy, but the importance of the first step, which is frankly, sometimes the hardest step to take and that’s having the conversation with the person we love about planning for their future.
Michael: [clears throat] I can see that. We actually spoke to a client just this morning in a meeting that just shepherd his mother through this process and she passed. One thing that he said was, it was very difficult to get started yet very easy to continue it.
Just to breach the conversation, just to begin that, much like with my own parents, just to start that conversation, I did it by saying, look, I’ve planned for my own family. I’m having children, now we have to plan. It was really important just to touch on that, Erin and we’ve heard that from so many others, that just starting is the hard thing, just addressing it, yet it pays such dividends in the future.
Katie: What I loved about how you approached that conversation, Michael, with your father is how you expressed your concern for him while at the same time asking him what is important to him so that you would know. I love to see that exchange between clients because it is so important, I think, for adult children to know what’s important for their parents so that they can sleep peacefully at night knowing that they did the right thing for their parents. There’s a huge amount of peace of mind in knowing what your parent wanted you to do so that you could make that decision confidently for them.
Michael: I’ve had these conversations, and I’ve been able to, I’m going to say I’m blessed to have shepherded both of my parents through this process and also through their passing. I’ve had conversations with other people, Katie, that didn’t have that confidence, that their parents fell into a crisis quickly, weren’t able to make all the decisions, and I think putting that onus on yourself to have all these different decisions to be made and at the same time have the confidence that you’re making the right decision, it’s such a stressful time.
Your parent is in crisis. You’re being asked of things, and your parent can’t speak for themselves or they maybe don’t have the ability to because of cognitive issues and if those things are discussed in advance, it just allows you to have the confidence to know you’re doing the right thing, even if sometimes you disagree with it. There was a point where I just questioned my father a little bit and said, “I know you’ve told me this. Would you like to maybe reconsider?” He said, “No.”
Think about that today. I helped him do exactly what he wanted to do. That is so great. Even though at one portion of it I had trepidation of it and what the step he was going to take and some of his care plan, it doesn’t matter. Today, my father’s wishes came to fruition, and that is important to me.
Katie: Another really salient point you mentioned, Michael, was that the conversation, sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s really difficult to have, but it’s always the hardest part. Everything after that is really quite simple. It’s that initial conversation which is the challenging thing to do. Once we’ve had it, we can then take just four more very simple steps to averting a crisis.
Once the conversation is had, the second step is pretty easy, really it’s simply organizing information or organizing the relevant information in our parent’s life, like their Social Security card, their Medicare card, their health insurance premium, simple documentation about who they are, their marriage certificate and marshaling their financial documents and resources. Where are their bank accounts? What are their passwords to the computer? What are their passwords to their telephone? Assembling all of that, organizing that information sets us up to serve them and care for them when we are called upon to do so. The rest of it is really left to the professionals.
As a family member, we really just need to have that conversation and then organize the information and then let the professionals do the rest, which is step number three, get the legal documents in place in advance. Step number four, assemble that team of professionals. You as the financial adviser, the lawyer, the geriatric care manager, the CPA, all of those people get them assembled and ready to assist. Then the last step is, through a geriatric care manager or a social worker or a registered nurse, developing and implementing the care plan that’s going to take care of our loved one going forward.
Kelly: Talking about [unintelligible 00:24:00] is so consistent with what we love to do ourselves at Cogent and the process that we take our clients through year after year. We find it so very important as part of our initial onboarding process to address what we call the advanced planning of our clients’ financial lives. For many people, that can be overlooked as part of working with an advisor, but for the professionals that we work with, we realized that this process means it involves not only getting their own legal documents in place but also having this conversation with their parents, which can be uncomfortable when it comes to talking about money, talking about the unfortunate possibility of disability.
We all know at some point we’re going to pass away. These are not easy conversations to have, and also, we recognize that they’re very important conversations to have. What tips would you be able to offer others who want to do what’s right and plan accordingly to start these conversations?
Erin: I’ll answer that. One of the things that I find is it’s a gift. Mom and Dad, this would be a gift that you’re giving me to help me help you. As far as care planning, when you have– It’s flexible, it’s not written in stone, but when you know what your resources are, or at least who the professionals on your team are, that helps to decrease the stress. Really, mom and dad, grandma, aunt, whoever it is, we’re all interdependent, no one is independent, no one’s on their island by themselves.
If we’re looking at how to start that conversation, many times, it’s a gift, would you give this to me for my birthday or Passover, or Easter or Christmas, or whatever that situation may be, that would be a gift. Many times, the parents are still wanting to protect their children, and not burden them, but trying to explain that, again, this is a gift, that we can all work together as we have done, perhaps for our whole lives.
Michael: That’s just great. Yes, that is great that you’re framing it as a gift to your parents saying, by me asking you questions, I’m going to benefit from this and learn more about you, it’s the reverse role, where we, as the children, become somewhat of the leaders and the family. I think parents are reticent at times to do that. I’ve heard that from others, clients and friends, yet they too see their friends go through things and they too witness that maybe things didn’t go exactly the way as they would have wanted their friend or other family members to go through.
Really appreciate that. I just like to touch on the five things. Again, it’s important what you say. The first is to have the talk, to actually frame it as a gift and sit down with them and say, “Please, would you share your direction, your vision on how you want this to go, and how can I learn more about you?” I think that’s great. Then organize the information, don’t wait to the crisis to look around for the manila folder in the drawer that you don’t know exists even. Get that information in place, maybe use your phone or whatever to take copies or pictures or whatever you have to do to make sure you are prepared to step in if required.
Then work with a professional to prepare the legal documents. How great is that, that things are in place, they’re written, they’re legal, and when the stress does come, they can come to fruition. Then assemble the team of professionals around you, the ones that really can help. I’m not just talking about the attorneys, but everybody else, from the care manager to the placement coordinator to even somebody to help you look out a little further than just the next step and be able to plan and talk to your siblings, talk to others and get the information you need so you can make the best decisions for you and your family member.
Then also, just develop that care plan in conversations from that with your parents and everyone else if they’re capable. God, it just sounds like a really nice process by which it seems very doable. It seems like it’ll take a little work, but it’ll actually pay off in the end, so thank you for that. Really appreciate it. Katie, one thing you mentioned was a point of planning to avoid a crisis. It’s hard for some of us to fathom what that crisis might look like. Can you provide a case example for me of what a crisis looks like that might hit a family?
Katie: I can. Unfortunately, we see them every day. They’re incredibly common. What they often look like is, for example, your mom and dad are living at home, and we know they need a little bit of assistance, but they’re getting by and they really don’t want any involvement or help from the outside, and so things are going along and we’re busy with our own lives and our own kids and our own work and whatnot, and then suddenly, we got a call from mom, and dad has fallen and she can’t get them up, and there’s no one nearby who can help get them up and he doesn’t seem to be responding verbally or cognitively, and so we have to tell mom, “You got to call the paramedics.”
The paramedics come and they take dad to the hospital and when he gets there, he’s really cognitively foggy, he might have an infection of some sort, they might diagnose them with some dehydration, maybe he hasn’t been eating and drinking very well lately. When we finally got to the hospital, we’ve got dad in a room and we’ve got mom out in the waiting room and mom is in tears and she turns to us and says, I can’t take them home. I can’t do this anymore and it comes out. It all comes out right there in the hospital, in the waiting room what’s actually going on at home. We find out that our little, 105-pound mom has been trying to manage all of dad’s activities of daily living and dad is 61 185 pounds and she’s really putting her own health at risk in providing him with full-time care and it’s just getting too much for her. We help these families, we help them. They’re everywhere. They happen to all of us. It happens too often, frankly and it’s never too late for us to help.
When we got those phone calls, we jumped to it and it’s another example of why we’ve got Erin on staff. We need to figure out where’s dad going to go. Can mom go home alone without him or does she need care herself? Who’s going to make the decisions? Who’s got authority to make the decisions? Where’s the money, how much money is there? What’s the long-term plan? We can help in those situations but imagine, just imagine if all of the five steps have been done in advance. If we’d had the conversation, we had all the legal documents, we already had Erin years ago, planning. We might’ve number one, averted the crisis entirely.
Dad might not have ended up in the hospital at all. We would certainly already have the legal documents in place necessary to act. We’d have the financial information from our financial advisors on what the overall financial plan is and we would have placements identified and care plans identified so that we could just, if there were a hospitalization, immediately transition to the long-term plan, rather than in the midst of this crisis, having to go through that five-step plan overnight. Imagine that the stress, the emotional toll, and having to get all five steps done in a day in order to then plan for what’s going to happen to mom and dad going forward.
Really not ideal, it’s just easier on our clients and it makes me so happy to see when they plan in advance, that they’ve alleviated the mental and emotional toll, the crisis takes on them. It breaks my heart when I am in these crises to see how expensive and how time-consuming it is for my clients to deal with the crisis when we haven’t planned in advance. It breaks my heart because I know they could have put themselves in a better position in advance with a little bit of pre-planning.
Michael: From our side of being financial planners, we always offered to help our client’s family members. We call it the Cogent family and everyone that’s a client of ours, their parents, their aunts, uncles, their children are all part of our family. Well, generally, there can be two parents that are involved in this. One has the crisis, the other has the stress of helping them through it, but there’s also the financial considerations of what is left after if one of them were to pass. Katie, were you mentioning that how stressful and how just frankly, very costly it can be, can leave a diminished lifestyle or opportunities for the other later for them to address their own care when it comes.
There are oftentimes when both have a concurrent crisis while one’s going on and just to get ahead of that, to be able to see where you’re at, where this could go, and to have things in place. I think it was Napoleon that said, every battle is won before any shot is fired. It’s the same thing. It’s you need to be prepared and have that place. We really appreciate that guidance about just how being re-active can just be so much more difficult and stressful than to be purposeful and get out in front of it.
Erin: I think one of the things also to consider it’s financially can be much more costly, but the emotions, the stress that’s involved in some of our clients like Kelly’s example, dad’s in the emergency or mom, trying to coordinate all of this you can’t negate the emotion to it all as well.
Michael: Well, Kelly, and I have actually seen the studies that people that take care of family members and don’t seek help, do not do as well. They actually pass earlier in life. There was emotional and physical things that stress that you go through getting absolutely be deleterious to the other person that may be perfectly healthy going into it and they just age so hard and actually can take years of their life of if it’s protracted amount. The investment pays off in so many different ways. Right, Erin?
Erin: Yes, it definitely does. Putting resources and doesn’t have to be initially insurmountable. There’s small things that can be put in to place in the care plan. It’s flexible.
Michael: Wonderful. Well, we appreciate the five-step plan. We like that at Cogent. We happen to have a five-step plan also for addressing your wealth management and it’s really great. Would you mind if we go into some questions that we have things that either we’ve heard or the audience is giving us?
Katie: We’d love questions.
Michael: Wonderful. By the way, everybody that’s joining this, we just want to let you know we’re recording it. As we talked about, we’re recording it, we’re going to release it. If you have to run and you have some responsibilities or another engagement, please do, you’ll be able to see this later. Our clients often choose people that are not lineal, not directly in their family line to serve them in some capacity. It’s either maybe because they live out of town and their children or whatever aren’t close, or they just don’t have them, or it’s a non-traditional family. There’s so many different iterations. If the law doesn’t even acknowledge their relationships or whatever. How can you help them through that process?
Katie: That’s a really, really good question. It’s a concern that a lot of people have, which I think prevents them from seeking legal services in advance because the law really does, until very, at least recently the law only recognized relationships by blood or marriage, which historically were heteronormative and they did not include many of the important people who are important to us in our own lives. Because of that, because the law has not recognized important relationships, the law has only recognized these traditional legal relationships many people have avoided getting legal services.
It’s really important that if your relationship is not acknowledged by the law, that you do get legal services because your legal documents can trump the law. Your legal documents will override the law. While the law might say, your partner doesn’t count to us because you’re not legally married or your stepchild who, to you, is your blood child doesn’t count under the law, your documents can make those people count and you can give them your voice so that the law isn’t giving your voice to some other person who you don’t acknowledge as an important person in your life.
Kelly: Well, thank you for that, Katie. I’ve got another question here that we’ve actually heard quite a bit from others that we’ve spoken to. The question is, I am a concerned adult child with hardworking parents of modest means. They don’t talk about money with me or my siblings, and I’m worried they won’t have enough. Well, my spouse and I, or my siblings be financially responsible for them, or do they have other options to access care when they can’t provide for each other anymore?
Katie: That’s a really good question, and one, it’s one that comes up so routinely. Kelly, I wonder if your parents are like my parents and in being of the generation and people on the audience might have parents of the same generation. Money is not discussed, the checkbook is hidden. Parents do not discuss what they make on income. They do not talk about where their money is or how it’s invested, and you might be 45 years old or 50 years old, but nothing more than your childhood allowance is the most, your parents would ever have discussed with you money-wise or the little financial gifts that they might give you for birthday or holidays.
Having that discussion with parents like that is really hard, and when we don’t have them, we’re sitting here wondering, do my parents have money? Are they able to care for themselves? What will happen if they can’t pay for their own care? My advice is if your parents will not discuss money with you, this is when we need to get the team of professionals in place, because they might still treat you like you’re 12, but if you take them to a financial advisor, they might be very willing to be perfectly frank with their financial advisor, or they might be very willing to be frank with an elder law attorney or social worker or care manager.
Sometimes bringing in third-party professionals really helps have that conversation. On the legal end of financial responsibility, adult children are actually not legally responsible for caring for their parents if their parents do run out of money and there are lots of programs. There are many programs through the Department of Healthcare and Family Services in Illinois. There are programs through senior service agencies in the community.
There are programs for the veterans affairs administration. There are all programs that do take care of our families when they can’t afford to pay for care themselves. It’s another reason why it’s really important to find out where our parents are care wise, where they are financially and getting them to professionals in order to plan for potentially needing some assistance from other sources.
Michael: Katie, does it matter that you get well ahead of the crisis if they were to make themselves availed of the public assistant that’s offered.
Katie: Always, it’s always best because, again, it’s just less expensive and less time-consuming if everything’s done in advance. Almost anything can be accomplished in a crisis but it’s going to be painful. It’s going to take more time and it’s going to be a lot more expensive because the planning hasn’t occurred in advance.
Michael: Thank you.
Erin: I would say that also, options can be much more limited when you are in a crisis.
Michael: The door is open for other things if you do step back and do it in advance. Wouldn’t you want optionality when that does happen, when you want to know your parent’s direction to make sure my dad had some very strong things to say about being a veteran, and there are benefits available for veterans and others. It was really nice to hear that upfront and then start to look into it and then engage with a professional. It was able to guide us through what was available and what was possible. Definitely see that.
Kelly: I just want to interject for the audience, if anybody has any questions, just to reminder that we do have that Q&A chatbox. You can type your question in there, and then we’ll, hopefully, get a chance to address it before we wrap up today. If we don’t, we will always follow up with a response as well. We’ll wait for the questions to come in, but I do have a couple of general questions, Katie. One is my uncle who has always been distant from the family now has dementia. The doctor and bank won’t listen to me, even though I’m the only one in the family who cares about him. Can you help him or is it too late?
Katie: Great question. This really comes up quite a lot. Particularly with family members who aren’t our parents or our children or siblings, but aunts, uncles, friends even. When you’ve got an uncle with dementia and you care about him, it is definitely not too late to help him. Like Erin pointed out, options are more limited when we haven’t planned in advance. If we’re stepping in for our uncle at this stage, yes, we can absolutely help them, it’s going to take a little bit more work in order to help him.
The reason the bank is likely not acknowledging you because you’re related by a family relationship, or just because you care about someone, doesn’t give you legal authority to step in and start managing things. This pinpoints why it’s important to try to have a conversation with someone like our uncle or aunt who might be alone, might not have a partner or a spouse, might not have children looking out for them and to have that conversation about what their plans are and what their legal documents say, because a legal document executed in advance can give you authority with the bank.
If we don’t have those legal documents in place in advance, we can help, but it’s through the more limited option of a guardianship through probate courts. That’s the process that an elder law attorney can assist with in order to become a court-appointed guardian and to manage our uncle’s financial and personal decision-making because they don’t have legal documents that were put in place in advance, and they’re no longer able to direct to their own decision-making.
Kelly: Makes sense. I’ve got one final question here, unless anything else comes through the chat here. We’ve heard this question quite a bit as well from clients. The question is, I have a sister who has a disability and has never been able to leave home. My parents are aging and I’m worried about how much longer they can let alone take care of themselves, but also for my sister. What can I do to help protect all of them?
Katie: Wow. That’s a great question and one which we do encounter routinely, and I think it demonstrates just how complex family relationships can be and how much we as an adult child but also as a sibling might be called upon to take care of our family members. The clients I’ve seen who are in this situation, many of them have seen it coming years in advance.
When you’re living with a sibling who’s disabled, they’ve frequently been disabled since birth, we see as we age that our sibling is going to need help long after our parents are able to care for them and we’re sandwiched in between how do I care for my parents and how do I care for my adult sibling. If we’re the only child, the only other child in this family, we really do have a lot on our plate. I feel for those clients. This highlights, again, the importance of the teamwork approach.
A client like this really, really does need to wrap a team of professionals around them, they need financial advice. From a wealth manager, they need advice from a social worker, not necessarily a geriatric social worker but a social worker who’s got experience dealing with the issues that are specific to a young person with a disability or a person who is aging through adulthood with a disability, not just someone who’s got an aging issue, because they’re aging late in life. There are so many things that need to happen here and the coordination of an attorney, a social worker, and a financial advisor is going to create a care plan for everyone going forward.
What’s amazing about the law, and it’s one of the reasons I love Elder Law, is because it really does prioritize people with special needs and acknowledges that people with special needs, need special care and they get special protections under the law. There’s actually a lot that an Elder Law attorney could do in a situation like this to take care of both the parents and the disabled sister and Erin’s got a wealth of experience, assisting with all of the care planning that’s going to be involved in making sure that each is protected.
Through the financial advisor and the attorney, we can make sure that assets last, that they last the lifetime of the parents and of your disabled sister so that they can maximize their autonomy and independence, and quality of life. The more assets we can preserve for a family, the better people are going to live.
Kelly: Absolutely. We actually did just get a question into the chat or the Q&A box here. The question this might be more geared towards Aaron, but it says how does one find the best care facility for parents? My mother has Alzheimer’s, but my father is very sharp.
Katie: That’s a great one for Erin.
Erin: Well, there are so many different kinds of care facilities. Years ago, we had just nursing homes, now we have memory care centers, we have assisted living, we have independent with add-on services, there’s literally so many different options. One of the qualifications or one of the aspects of being a care manager is I know or a care manager would know the resources because there are so many variables, I can just say go to ABC community, or firstname.lastname@example.org, which I highly do not recommend or talking to your friends.
There’s just so many different variables to where a housing option, there are hundreds of different qualifications, and how you can pay for it. That’s another aspect. What kind of what can the person still do and what does the person need help with and there are just so many variables. A geriatric care manager can help out with that.
Katie: This is why I love involving a geriatric care manager because while one placement might be perfect for one family, it is a nightmare for another. Every placement decision needs to specifically take into account the patient. Who is the patient, how do they live and what kind of quality of life are they going to enjoy at each different facility? Based on the geriatric care manager’s experience with the diagnosis, with the care plan, and with that specific facility.
Michael: Erin, when you were speaking, I really found it to be interesting, and what you just said, Katie, has so many parallels to financial planning. That your definition of success, lifestyle, how you want to live can be so different from someone else. As financial advisors, we often hear, should I buy this or rollover this or should I do that? I think our standard answer is almost always, it depends.
I don’t mean that to dismiss people, but much like you said, Erin, that you have to know the particulars. You have to know the mods, the wishes, the needs, and maybe even the fears and the trepidation that some people have.
Michael: Then make an informed choice and consumers of financial information, consumers of elder care facilities and the law and everything else, they need to be educated. They need to first educate themselves on their situation. Then understand how the plan is going to play out and then bring the solutions in to match what their goals are through each and every iteration. We do that for our clients in financial planning and wealth management. You do it for clients through the process of helping them get the care they need to live with dignity and independence. There’s so many parallels. I’m just appreciative of it.
I’ll take it one step farther. Just want to ask you guys, Kelly and I have written a lot. Can we have your permission to share some of the documents you’ve given us on different processes or whatever? Katie and Erin, would that be okay if we shared your things in our conversation with people that reply to us in this from this webinar and others?
Katie: We would love it if you did, Michael, we really appreciate the conversations you had with your clients. That last point really drove it home, that it really is all about knowing who your client is having a really thorough conversation to make sure we understand who they are.
Michael: Well, we’re blessed, we have a lot of options in this life and there’s just not one path for everybody. We want to make sure there’s a path that you can take that you can stick to that helps people get through. Well, it’s really wonderful. They had this conversation. Kelly, any other questions that you see?
Kelly: That’s it, nothing has come through.
Michael: Great. Just know, everybody, we want to remain a resource. Wealth management has changed from asset management and the old days that are parents from brokers and stock pickers to now holistic planning for your future. If you’re a busy professional and you really want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself and also those that means so much for you, we’re here for you.
We want to make sure that you get your questions addressed. If you have any follow-up questions about yourself, a spouse, family member or someone above or below you that needs special care, reach out to us. We are so appreciative of Katie and Erin, we also have a deep bench of others that have specialties in other things in different regions and places that we’d love to make an introduction to you and love to be that resource. Nothing gives Kelly and I more joy than vetting out professionals that can really help people that we care about.
Use us as a resource going forward. I’m going to tie this up here for us. First off, I just want to say so very much. Thank you for everything that both Katie and Erin, you two have shared with us. It’s really been meaningful to me to have this conversation. I think helping others with dignity and independence through their years, maintaining that dignity, independence, better understanding where they’re at can be purposed. There are actually are firms such as Dutton Casey that can help you. There are professionals such as Erin and the coordinators that are out there that can actually guide you so that the process can be just so much better.
We want to thank both of you and from my personal experience, I’m going to challenge everybody on this call. I’ve written about it through our Cogent email@example.com. We’re going to share it with everyone here on this webinar. Also, if anybody listens to this later, please reach out to us, but have the talk with your parents of where they’re at and where they’re going. That’s a wonderful conversation to have and feel free to reach out to us at any time. We’ll help you, we’ll hold your hand in the hard part of getting started so that you can actually serve as the ones that you love well.
Kelly: Just follow up to Michael Darren just wanted to thank both of you, Katie and Erin so much for being our guests today. We sure appreciate your sharing your knowledge of elder law and how to develop a care plan as obviously you see it play out every day in your firm. provides such a great benefit to your own clients and their family members.
For everybody who’s here with us today, just an FYI, if you check the chatbox right now, you will find a contact information and a link if there’s a desire to schedule a call with Michael or I to discuss your financial future and also the contact information for Katie and Erin if you’d like to reach out to them directly as well. Then lastly, just to wrap off today, we wanted to let you know we are hosting another webinar on health and wellness coming up in April with [unintelligible 00:55:34]. Keep your eye on your email inbox and social media channels for further details to come. We hope you will be able to join us. Thank you again for sharing your time with us today. We hope you all have a great rest of your day.
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