Helping your Parents to Cope
The Guardian newspaper recently published a helpful group discussion, in which readers shared their own experiences of what has worked for them in offering a helping hand when a parent is finding it all too much.
It’s one of the more unsettling experiences of middle age, when you realise your strong and capable parents, who have been your chief role model, provider and place of safety for decades, aren’t quite as strong and capable as they used to be. It’s an odd feeling to realise the roles have reversed and suddenly it’s down to you to be the place of safety for them.
We don’t talk about this issue much, and consequently there aren’t many opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences. So, it can be difficult to find effective and respectful ways of offering support to a parent who’s struggling.
This is an issue that can creep up on families, but often it’s the loss of one parent that brings the surviving parent’s vulnerability into stark relief. The shock of bereavement, combined with the overwhelming pace of change in modern life, can leave the surviving parent feeling cast adrift, and the adult children wondering how to help.
The Guardian newspaper recently published a helpful group discussion, in which readers shared their own experiences of what has worked for them in offering a helping hand when a parent is finding it all too much. Their suggestions came in response to the following question posed by a reader:
“My recently widowed 84-year-old mum is clueless about money – dad did everything. I worry how she’ll cope (and I don’t live close). How much should I interfere? What do readers recommend?”
The ideas that fellow readers came back with are practical, compassionate and respectful.
“I had exactly this issue when Mum died – she did all the cooking, shopping, and household bills – and worked, too! Dad was the archetypal breadwinner. Her death was quick, and a shock, and the biggest adjustment was for Dad. We kids (in our forties!) went home to our families and he was the one left alone. Dad gave me third party on the bank account to help with the post-bereavement issues and to get back on his feet. I still have it in case of emergencies. I am sure what we did helped him retain his independence. As he gets older we will discuss, at his own pace, what help, if any, he may need. Talk, and take little steps. If your mum does feel she needs the security of knowing her affairs are in order, as well as talking about money talk about her health. When setting up a financial power of attorney you can also set up a health one. If you’re going to be her advocate for one, you should seriously consider the other.”
“MM65” had this to say about striking the right balance:
“Mum was the organiser and died suddenly, leaving Dad, 79. We are in the process of securing LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) on the basis that it might be needed. I have set up a couple of things so that I can access them, like his phone / broadband package. For now, he can manage the bank, but, in time, I might become a second account holder. Initially, I wanted as much control over Dad’s affairs as possible, but, as time has gone on I have realised that’s not so good. He’s not a child, and losing his wife is bad enough without also losing his independence. For now, I feel it’s better if I give him space and just keep an eye on things. For example, I realised that he didn’t think about paying credit card bills – he would use the card but not know how to deal with the bill”
“SZ Needham” didn't mince words:
“Get power of attorney now – even if you don’t need it yet. I took it out for my mother when she started getting dementia and it was very soon after she signed the papers that I needed to manage her money. She had to be capable of signing and understand what she was agreeing to, so it’s best to get it done as soon as you can, before she gets too confused. My sister was also included on the document, and my mother had to sign with an independent witness. But I’m so glad I had this power. I couldn’t have paid her bills, or got access to her pension to pay anything for her, otherwise. Her bank also put me as a second signatory on her account, again with her permission, and that helped too. For social services, or pensions, I could not have done anything without power of attorney. Without it everyone treated my mother as fully capable of all these things, and I couldn’t have helped her.”
Neither did “AspirationalSocialist”:
“My mum went from being very highly functioning and independent (driving herself to various clubs and social outings, as well as visiting friends every day and lots of nights out) to being unable to concentrate or understand, never mind remember the easiest basics, within a year! I got both financial and health power of attorney sorted, not a minute too soon, and can only implore everybody to do the same asap.”
And an important reminder came from “Ajchm”
“Do discuss with any siblings first, but, ultimately, it is her decision…”
What’s clear from readers’ feedback is how enormously helpful it’s been that their parents made Lasting Powers of Attorney. Far from a mechanism for taking over their parents’ lives, the readers have all found the Powers of Attorney to be a powerful tool for helping their parents navigate the challenges of modern life and retain their independence.
Broaching the Subject
If you’re becoming concerned about your parents’ coping skills, broaching the subject isn’t going to be the most comfortable task in the world, but encouraging them to act sooner rather than later will make a world of difference in the long run. Having that uncomfortable conversation with the whole family, being especially careful to include all your siblings, will be an important first step in helping your parents decide how you can best help them.
The most immediately useful Power of Attorney will be the Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs. This will give your parents the power to choose who should represent their interests in those practical day-to-day matters that are increasingly puzzling for older people in this internet-dependent age. It isn’t just a safety net in case your parents lose mental capacity; it’s a useful tool they can call upon anytime they like, to delegate tasks they’re uncomfortable with, such as dealing with internet banks and the dreaded “customer services” departments of the utility companies. While they have capacity, your parents must consent to this type of Power of Attorney being used, and they can withdraw that consent whenever they like, which is an important source of peace of mind for many parents who aren’t keen on the idea of their kids “taking over”.
The Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, however, is purely there as a safety net, because it can only be used when mental capacity is lost. This Power of Attorney deals with the deeply personal issues that are often quite troubling for older people, such as how they will be cared for, where they will live and what medical treatment they do and don't consent to.
Parents frequently have three main objections to making their Powers of Attorney:
“I’m not decrepit enough for this!”
This is a frequent lament. The important point to bear in mind, though, is that we shouldn’t put off making our Powers of Attorney until we’re in your dotage. It’s a decision we make while we’re fit and well just in case something happens in the future. Sudden-onset disability, such as the result of a stroke or a serious injury, can befall anyone, and, as some of the Guardian readers above demonstrate, there are illnesses that progress at alarming speed. Leaving it until it’s too late can be a real headache, because the only option then is to go to the Court of Protection to have a Deputy appointed. Not only does this take months and cost a fortune, but it also results in permanent official scrutiny in the form of annual reviews by Court of Protection officials, which many families find intrusive.
“I don't want to be treated like a child!”
This is another serious and understandable objection. However, the culture surrounding Powers of Attorney emphasises respect for our rights as adults and citizens of a free country, with the following key principles.
- Everyone must assume we have capacity unless and until there is evidence to the contrary, usually in the form of a doctor’s opinion.
- Capacity is recognised as a fluid concept – rarely does anyone go to bed one night with capacity and wake up the next morning without it. We can have capacity for some decisions and not for others, it all depends on context.And it’s firmly recognised that capacity fluctuates according to circumstances - people have good days and bad days
- When capacity is lost, every effort must be made to help the person to make their own decisions as far as possible. Only when those efforts fail can decisions be made for them.
- The difference between eccentricity and incapacity is firmly respected. Wanting to make an “unwise” decision is never, on its own, treated as evidence of incapacity.
- And even if capacity is irretrievably lost, there’s an ongoing duty to respect personal liberty. When faced with a range of choices, Attorneys must always opt for the choice that interferes least with personal freedom.
“I don’t want people intruding in my private business!”
Again, this is a completely understandable concern. Ironically, Powers of Attorney are an important way of preserving respect for privacy. A person who loses capacity without having made a Power of Attorney will be subjected to seemingly endless outside interference from strangers. The Court of Protection will pry into their affairs annually, and social workers and health professionals will make decisions based on “best interests”, often with little regard for the wishes of the individual. A Power of Attorney makes sure there is someone who knows them well, who has the authority to insist on their wishes being respected.
It’s your parents’ decision
Deciding to find out more about Powers of Attorney is the beginning of a careful thought process for your parents. The decision is theirs alone, and they absolutely must feel confident that it’s the right choice for them.
A useful starting point for them might be to do a little research. Our Online Estate Planning Toolkit is a great place to start because it’s a rich resource of practical, jargon-free information about the options available, with transparent pricing information to keep your parents in control of their budget.
They might also benefit from a private consultation in their own home, where they can discuss their concerns freely and get specific advice about their situation and what choices might work best for them. This is a completely complimentary service, and is followed up with written advice that can form the basis for further reflection and discussion before they make the decision they’re sure is best for them.
If you’d like to find out more about offering a helping hand to your parents in this way, don't hesitate to get in touch. Give us a call on 0151 601 5399 or complete the enquiry form below, and we’ll be glad to help.
Video Blog: How to Pay for a Funeral Without Going Into Debt
It's a terrible time when you've just been bereaved, and the last thing you need is practical worries about paying for the funeral.Read more...
A Scary Story! Video Blog
My video explaining how a simple keystroke error almost cost someone their £100k+ inheritance … and what easy action you can take to safeguard yourself against such a thing happening to you.Read more...
Older Childless People “Dangerously Unsupported”
More than a million childless people aged 65 or above are living with dangerously inadequate levels of support, suffering isolation and lack of access to formal care - and that number is expected to double by 2030.Read more...
Taking the Long View
You need to make an estate plan to truly future-proof your family. Here's why, and how to go about it.Read more...
Brexit Turmoil Delivers Reprieve for Bereaved Families
At last, a tiny bright spot amongst the relentless Brexit related misery.Read more...
£110,000 for seven years of care
A court has awarded £110,000 to a granddaughter who provided devoted live-in care for her grandmother for seven years.Read more...
What to Do When a Loved One Passes Away
When you lose someone, the last thing you want is to think about the practicalities, but there are some essential steps you must take to safeguard the estate and ensure that it is passed down as smoothly as possible.Read more...
Estate Planning Essentials for Same-Sex Couples
How to avoid the four most common estate planning pitfalls that can affect same-sex couples.Read more...
D’Oh! Five Ways to Seriously Mess Up Your Estate Plan
If financial security and peace of mind for your nearest and dearest is your priority, it’s essential that you maintain a valid and up to date estate plan.Read more...
Talking About Estate Planning with your Parents
Have your Mum & Dad made their estate plan yet? Should you be concerned?Read more...
What About Your Digital legacy?
How to plan for what will happen to all your online accounts after you’ve gone.Read more...
Don’t let your business get clobbered!
It’s your responsibility to safeguard your business. Here’s how to do it in three easy steps.Read more...
Cost of Care Rises by 10% in Just One Year
The cost of a place in a care home is rising at its fastest rate ever, while pension incomes have little hope of keeping pace.Read more...
Hats off to the “Parentsioners”!
Look around, and you’ll notice you're surrounded by people who quietly go about their daily business of achieving seemingly impossible feats of hard work and organisation. You might be looking at just such a person in the mirror.Read more...
Contested Will Saga Ends in Prison Sentence
A retired window cleaner, who was left £280,000 in the will of a customer, was jailed for failing to hand back the money when ordered.Read more...
Will Inheritance Tax be Simplified?
The Office for Tax Simplification is reviewing the complex Inheritance Tax system. Does this mean there will there be less tax to pay?Read more...
Daughters try to block father’s marriage
Court of Protection forced to decide whether daughters can lawfully block their father’s marriage to his partner of 20 years.Read more...
Three Brothers in Court Battle Over their Mother’s Legacy
The three Heath brothers have already incurred £50,000 in court costs because they didn't have the awkward family conversation about inheritance.Read more...
We Need to Talk About Inheritance
With inherited wealth set to double in the next 20 years, it’s time to get over the awkwardness and have the conversation now.Read more...
Inheritance Tax Bonanza for HMRC
A 23% spike in Inheritance Tax receipts is being blamed on frozen allowances, rising house prices and more aggressive tax collection.Read more...
Dementia Tax – Some Good News?
Cautious optimism as Health Secretary vows to bring forward plans to make paying for care fairer.Read more...
The Tragic Case of “Mr Y”
52-year-old "Mr Y" is being kept alive in a coma while the Official Solicitor defends legal principles.Read more...
Can the Government be Trusted on the Dementia Tax?
Little has been said about the cost of care since the 2017 Dementia Tax controversy. But the few hints dropped by the government have both insulted and threatened parents of adult children.Read more...
Power of Attorney Refunds Available
If you paid £110 to register your Lasting Power of Attorney between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017, you are entitled to a refund of up to £54.Read more...
Case Study: Jim and Jean’s Story
Jim and Jean have two grown-up children with complex disabilities. Here’s how their estate plan met their needs.Read more...
The £50million Final Salary Pension Transfer Boom
Here’s why so many savers are moving away from their final salary pension schemes? And why your pension capital should be a key consideration in your estate plan.Read more...
Just how risky are Lasting Powers of Attorney?
An invaluable tool? Or a passport to financial abuse?Read more...
Case Study: Guy and Steve Safeguard their BusinessRead more...
Sheila Kitzinger’s Good Death
Sheila Kitzinger, a passionate advocate for the rights of expectant mothers, pioneered the use of birth plans. And she brought the same control and empowerment to planning her own final days.Read more...
We’re Not Getting Any Older
Life expectancy at age 64 has all but ground to halt, due to the austerity years and a surge in dementia. What can you do for yourself while we wait for a cure?Read more...
Lynda Bellingham’s Sons Betrayed, as Feared
The late Lynda Bellingham’s lack of a proper estate plan risked leaving her sons with nothing – now her widower has done exactly what she least wanted him to do.Read more...
Probate: What’s it all about?
If you are dealing for the first time with the estate of someone who has died, you must quickly get to grips with some probably unfamiliar concepts. This is a short introduction to the issues you may have to deal with.Read more...
Redefining old age?
Seismic demographic changes mean we must re-think what it means to be “old”, says one of the UK’s leading social scientists.Read more...
Case Study: Ray & Joyce
How this retired couple made sure most of their main asset would be inherited by their children – and not the council.Read more...
Business Property Relief
If you are a business owner, it’s likely that your business is one of your main assets. You may want to pass your business to the next generation as a going concern, or you may want your dependants to benefit from the value of the business after you’ve gone.Read more...
Seven Inheritance Tax Tips for Buy to Let Investors
If you’ve invested in buy-to-let, you’ve probably done so with the intention of creating a steady income for yourself, together with capital to hand on to the next generation when you’re gone. But unfortunately, wealth tied up in residential lettings often comes with a significant Inheritance Tax burden.Read more...
The Residence Nil Rate Band
A guide to making the most of the new Inheritance Tax allowance.Read more...
Case Study: Tony and Diane’s Story
How Tony and Diane secured an Inheritance-Tax-free legacy for their daughter and planned a secure retirement for themselves.Read more...
What’s all this fuss about The Dementia Tax?
It’s odd that there has been so much vociferous debate about “the dementia tax”, as if this is an outrageous new concept proposed by a rapacious government. The truth is that people with dementia have been robbed of their legacy for decades to pay for their care.Read more...
Separating Elderly Couples in Care is Inhumane
It's scary that Social Care leaders actually had to be told at a recent conference that separating elderly couples in care is inhumane.Read more...
Inheritance Tax Planning with Enterprise Investment Schemes
Not keen on the government gate-crashing your funeral to demand yet more tax? An Enterprise Investment Scheme may be a useful addition to your estate planning toolkit.Read more...
Sons’ Inheritance Blown on Legal Fees
Two brothers have wasted their entire inheritance on a doomed court battle to contest their late father’s will.Read more...
Helping your Parents to Cope
The Guardian newspaper recently published a helpful group discussion, in which readers shared their own experiences of what has worked for them in offering a helping hand when a parent is finding it all too much.Read more...
The Supreme Court’s Decision in Heather Ilott’s case.
The 2015 Court of Appeal Decision in Heather Ilott’s case has been overturned. The Court of Appeal’s 2015 award of £163,000 has been reduced to £50,000.Read more...
Charitable Legacies - a Win-Win
Leaving a charitable legacy in your Will makes you feel good AND gets you an Inheritance Tax discount – what’s not to love?Read more...
Our friend died without saying she’d left us £110k
The rate at which estates go unclaimed has risen two and a half times in the last five years, according to government figures recently released.Read more...
Who gets the kids if something happens to us?
It’s a horrible thought, isn’t it? Nobody wants to imagine their beloved child being orphaned, but thinking about the unthinkable, and making proper plans, is a vital parental responsibility.Read more...
Is Your Child’s Inheritance Divorce-Proof?
Doreen Crowther may lose her house because her inheritance wasn't divorce-proofed.Read more...
Planning for the Cost of Care
Will poor health in later life put your home at risk?Read more...
Status Quo Rocker Rick Parfitt Disinherited his Wife
The late Status Quo star Rick Parfitt disinherited his wife in the final days before he died, it has emerged. But all is not as it seems.Read more...
My Health Scare - and why I’m so glad I made an Estate Plan
My New Year was overshadowed by a major health scare – but my estate plan assured me that, whatever might happen, my clients and loved ones are protectedRead more...
Your New Year’s Resolution?
If you haven't made your will yet, you risk leaving a mess behind for the people you love.Read more...
George Michael’s Estate Plan
Much missed pop legend provides for his sisters, god-children and favourite charities in his WillRead more...
Our 2017 Continuing Professional Development Programme
Our 2017 Estate Planning Training Programme for Accountants and Financial Services ProfessionalsRead more...
How a £2000 Inheritance Transformed 40,000 lives
Vashti Seth started a charity with a legacy from her dadRead more...
The £72million House Heist
Councils’ £72million raid on older people’s houses to pay for careRead more...
Royle Family’s Caroline Aherne Accidentally Left Her Mum with a £71,000 Inheritance Tax Bill
Inheritance Tax stress for Caroline Aherne's bereaved MumRead more...
“Get a Job!”: Disinherited Daughter’s Court Battle Ends in Humiliation
Danielle Ames loses her fight with her stepmother for a share in her late father’s fortuneRead more...
Danae Brook’s Story: A Blended Family Blighted by Intestacy
How Danae’s husband’s intestacy left this blended family in chaos.Read more...
The Truth about Deliberate Deprivation of Capital
Thinking about making a significant gift to your children? Worried that the council might snatch back the gift if you later go into a care home? Here’s what you need to know.Read more...
Disinherited Daughter v Stepmother
Disinherited Danielle Ames in Court Battle with her Stepmother over her "Idolised" Late Father's FortuneRead more...
Is the Traditional Marriage an Endangered Species?
In a major cultural shift, married couples are now in the minority as most couples choose to cohabit. Is this the beginning of the end for traditional marriage?Read more...
Video Blog - Inheritance Tax and You
Will my estate be affected by Inheritance Tax?Read more...
The Hurt and Rejection of Daisy Goodwin
It's every parent's responsibility to talk to their children about the legacy they might leaveRead more...
Trusts to Manage Inheritance Tax – One Rule for The Duke of Westminster and One for the Rest of Us?
The toxic urban myth that Inheritance Tax is for "the little people".Read more...
Toby Wales’s Story
The power of wills to transform lives for the better.Read more...
Heartache and Chaos from a Lost Will
Alison Shields tells of the distressing consequences of her father's lost will.Read more...
Father’s fear of making a will left his young daughter penniless
How Katy Young was accidentally disinherited by her father's fear of making a will.Read more...
Property tycoon sued beyond the grave.
Ex-civil partner of deceased millionairess in court bid for larger settlementRead more...
Stepfamilies & Blended Families Estate and Legacy Planning
A video guide for people who have stepfamilies or blended familiesRead more...
Frugal Bachelor Leaves Surprise Legacy of £1.5million to his Local Hospital
Heartwarming Generosity of Peter GibbonsRead more...
Case Study - How Dervla’s Inheritance Tax Planning Saved £120k
In today’s climate, “fail to plan” means “plan to pay lots of Inheritance Tax”Read more...
Video Blog - Estate Planning Tips for Business Owners
A Video Guide to Keeping your Business ResilientRead more...
Angela Rippon – a Happy Singleton Putting her Affairs in Order
In advance of the BBC documentary "The Truth About Dementia", Angela Rippon shares her concerns.Read more...
“Do Not Resuscitate” – Could this Happen to You Without your Consent?
The NHS knows that it's happening - and why it's happening - but won't be doing anything about it anytime soon. Here's how to protect yourself and your family.Read more...
The 8 Vital Questions You Should Answer Before You Make a Will or Estate Plan
How to choose an estate plan that's fit for purpose and within your budgetRead more...
Estate Planning Tips for Happy Singletons
This is an estate planning guide for single people - what you, as a happy singleton, can do to plan a secure future and a meaningful legacy.Read more...
Oxo Mum’s Family Torn Asunder by a Badly Made Will
How poor estate planning has left the late Loose Women star’s sons powerless – and possibly penniless.Read more...
Case Study - Bill and Anne, Buy to Let Investors
How we helped a couple ensure a secure future for theselves, their family and their buy to let portfolioRead more...
Estate Planning Considerations for Buy to Let Investors
This is the first in a two-part series that looks at the estate planning concerns of buy to let investors - and some of the many available solutions.Read more...
Come Live with Me and Be my Love ....
Five practical tips for living together securelyRead more...
Colin and Eleanor’s Story - Peace of Mind for Four Generations
This is the story of Colin and Eleanor, great-grandparents who wanted the peace of mind of knowing their assets were protected for the four generations of their family, and that their own personal wishes were respected no matter whatRead more...
Soaring Probate Fees - a Stealth Tax
The Ministry of Justice has announced a fee scale that increases the cost of probate by up to 130 times the present fee. Here are some ways of managing the cost of leaving a legacy for your family, so their inheritance is maximised.Read more...
Joy Williams’ Legal Battle - And Her Lessons for Couples Living Together
Joy Williams has won an exhausting, four-year court battle to save her home – but it could all have been avoidedRead more...
How a £90 Will Cost a Daughter Half a House
Ebenezer Aregbesola used a low-cost will-writing service to prepare his will - consequently a crucial loophole was missed, which robbed his daughter of her inheritance.Read more...
Making Your Child’s Inheritance Divorce-Proof
Marriage isn't always forever - is there a way to protect your child's inheritance from the consequences of a divorce?Read more...
How A Blunder Over Geography Led to a High Court Battle Over a Scientist’s Will.
A High Court battle between The Royal Society and an eminent scientist's family centred on the meaning of the phrase "United Kingdom".Read more...
Twice the Maternal love, but Twice the Inheritance Tax Burden
The Utley family have shared in the national press their heart-warming story of sisterly devotion, and their worries about the way a wholly unexpected turn of events has placed them in a dilemma they’re unsure how to solve. Here are some potential solutions.Read more...
Guest Blog - Building a Secure Future with ISA’s
This guest blog is brought to you by Neil Ridpath, an Independent Financial Advisor with Neil J Ridpath Wealth Management Limited. A fundamental part of planning for yours and your family’s financial security is making the most of your assets. Here, Neil tells us about Individual Savings Accounts, and why they are such a useful tool for getting the best return form your hard-earned savings.Read more...
Standing Up for the “Mustn’t Grumble” Generation.
Recent reports suggest that older people are getting a raw deal in many aspects of life, because they generally don't like to complain. How can we make sure older people receive the great service they deserve?Read more...
Seize the Day! Overcoming Procrastination about Protecting your Legacy
How to overcome the impulse to put off important decision, like protecting your legacy.Read more...
Self employed? Here’s how to safeguard your business and your family
If you're self-employed, your business can be your greatest asset and your greatest responsibility - here's how to keep it safe. come what mayRead more...
“Inheritance Tax is too toxic to save”, says The Fabian Society
The Nation is almost unanimously opposed to Inheritance Tax - but abolition is unlikely so we must fight back in other ways.Read more...
Advance Care Planning - Staring Into the Abyss or Taking Back Control?
Considering an Advance Directive takes some courage - but brings peace of mind for you and your family.Read more...
Don’t Mind the Council Inheriting your House? Then Go Ahead and Make Basic Mirror Wills
The potential price of making simple mirror wills.Read more...
Why leaving your estate to your other half can be a terrible mistake
The risks in making straightforward Mirror Wills.Read more...
The Sad Story of Mr and Mrs Henein - Husband Left Homeless by Lack of Proper Planning
Why it's so important to talk to each other about the future.Read more...
Back to Basics - Why Make a Will?
Why you should make a will, and why it should be up to date.Read more...
Subscribe for Updates & Information
"As a single person with no dependants I wanted to ensure that in the event of my death my assets would be given to the people that I wanted - Gina sorted it simply and in plain english - that’s a real comfort. Thanks!!"