Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sibling Rivalry and Elder Planning

Planning for an elder parent is difficult enough without old "baggage" showing up.  However, that is often exactly what happens.  The stress and uncertainty of dealing with an elder parent's future can activate old family issues and rivalries that everyone thought were long gone.

Here are some tips to help ease the pain of sibling rivalry when a elderly parent is unable to make a plan for himself/herself or has come to the point where additional help is needed.

  1. When possible, always include your parent in the decision-making process.
  2. Try to be realistic about each siblings strengths and weaknesses, including your own.
  3. Try to put aside hurt feelings and deal with the reality of the situation.
  4. Have a family meeting as soon as possible.  
  5. Get the facts.  This includes seeking medical advice from your parent's doctor when indicated.
  6. Gather a list of your parent's assets and debts.
  7. Seek professional advice.  See an elder planning attorney early in the process.  You can bring your "family meeting" to the lawyer's office so that everyone hears the same information at the same time. For those families spread across a large geographic area, skype or other remote connections may be indicated. 
  8. Choose an attorney who exhibits compassion and concern for your parent, family and the situation.  Don't hesitate to tell the lawyer the entire truth about concerns, fears, and sibling rivalries that may affect the decision-making process.  It is important to consider the whole picture, not just the "business aspects" of this very challenging situation. 

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