Sometimes, our parents stand in the way of helping themselves.  We ask about their estate plans, health care concerns, continuing care issues and the response is almost universally the same.  They say they are not losing control, they don’t want to “share” their “private” affairs with anyone or they don’t want to be a burden on their children.  But the reality is that they are preventing those that they love from effectively helping them when they need it most.

Having written directions about the care that you want is critical, considering the increasing longevity we face.  Having the conversation with your loved ones is equally important to ensure that those who care about you most don’t agonize over “what you want”, especially when there is more than one sibling.  And if there is only one sibling, the task of making those decisions can be overwhelming.

Many of our parents say things like, I don’t know whom to trust, I don’t know who ask for help, or I don’t have enough to benefit from expensive services of a good lawyer, accountant or financial planner.  But ask yourself, how much is enough for you to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that things have been taken care of to your satisfaction?  Most people are concerned that their kids live good upright lives, spend money wisely, pass on family values and raise their kids right.  A tall order indeed, but certainly possible.  How much more attainable if the senior members of the clan call a meeting of family members to share their ideals, histories, hopes and dreams for their family – how powerful is that?

Parents need to start concerning themselves with who will help them when the time comes.  They need to gain the trust of family and advisors who will be with them during the tough times that inevitably will come – to help the younger family members be productive in society, not become trust babies or have an entitlement attitude.  Regular counsel with their trusted advisors and regular family meetings explaining the family mission and values is critical to having your wishes carried out.