When it comes to our family members, we like to think that we know what is best for them. For the most part that is true. After all, these are people we grew up with or in the case of family by way of marriage, got to know over the years.
Yet there are times, in particular when loved ones get older and need help, that the question, “Should I seek professional help?” arises with respect to the health and financial affairs of your loved one.
It is an important question because:
- There is time and cost involved in hiring a professional.
- In an attempt to maintain their independence, older family members may become stubborn or argumentative. So, it can be difficult to separate emotions from fact.
- You don’t want to be accused of overreacting in a situation that could have been handled without professional intervention.
Here are some factors to keep in mind when making the decision to seek professional help:
Are there legal issues involved?
Is there a family member, such as a parent or in-law that doesn’t have a will or advanced medical directive? Don’t let them rely on forms from an office supply store. A will and advance medical directive deal with issues of law that can be complex. This is a job for a professional, specifically an elder law attorney.
Does it involve an area where you don’t have expertise?
There are many matters to deal with when caring for a loved one and it can seem impossible to keep everything organized. Yet, with some work, things like keeping healthcare paperwork in order or setting up a system to keep track of medication, can be done without professional help. If the area in question goes beyond mere clerical work, such as dealing with elder care issues, then a professional is most likely needed.
Does it involve a decision that will affect the life of another?
Getting back to the loved one without a will, it isn’t just wealthy people who need a will. Without a will, the state decides how assets and property will be distributed. Also, depending on which state the loved one resides, a spouse may not automatically inherit assets and property. What if the loved one has children? Chances are he or she would like them to have something. These are issues that will affect the lives of others for years to come. So, a professional is needed to put together an estate plan that reflects the desires of the loved one.
It is good to remember that despite your best efforts and intentions, there are times when acting on your own or letting a loved one act on his or her own could make a situation worse. If the loved one balks at the cost, remind that person that it is cheaper to act before an emergency or crisis occurs. Moreover, utilizing the services of a healthcare professional or an elder law specialist before an emergency gives you piece of mind that when things like serious illness or death occur, arrangements are in place and their wishes have been spelled out beforehand.