Am I My Brother's Keeper?
I read an article over the weekend in the Deseret News discussing the concerns of those who are aging yet still caring for a disabled child. Of course the needs and abilities of both the disabled individual and the caregiver will change with age. Ultimately, if the disabled individual outlives the caregiver, transition to a new caregiver will be necessary. This may need to happen sooner if the caregiver becomes unable to provide that care. Transition is a fact of life.In estate planning it is common place to think about and discuss what will happen with to the minor children in the event of the parents untimely death. A good planner will discuss the care of a disabled child, but truly great planning recognizes that many are taking care of others both formally and informally who do not fall into these neat categories. Certainly there are minor children or disabled adult children, but what about children who care for an elderly parent. What about the good Samaritan taking care of a neighbor? All of these individuals are relying at some level on the continuing help of the caregiver.While identifying a successor caregiver is important, just as important can be leaving behind instructions on how best to provide that care. Is the person a big fan of the local sports team and loves to watch the their games? Do they like certain foods? Are they sensitive to cold or heat? What are the things you do to make life better for this person? These details of life can be invaluable in making a smooth transition. But, how will the new caregiver find out? Trial and error?If you are providing assistance to someone who at some level cannot take care of himself or herself I would encourage you to consider including a transition plan as part of your estate planning. This will allow trial and error to be replaced by a smooth transition. You are your brother’s keeper. You do amazing things. Take the time to preserve the knowledge for the person coming next.