It’s hard enough for your elderly parents to maintain a sense of independence as they age and need more help with things. Asking them to give up their automobile is just one more restriction on their freedom. However, as the costs associated with owning a car begin to outweigh the benefits, it’s time to have the difficult conversation about giving up the keys.
Car Ownership Can Drain Assets
The biggest concern most adult children have is that their parents are losing the ability to operate a vehicle safely. While it’s true that driving becomes riskier the older you get, that’s not the only reason to give up owning a car. As you work on convincing your parents to give up their car, make sure they understand your concern for their safety, but also appeal to their sense of frugality by pointing out the potential costs of owning a car. Here are some key areas to address:
- Safety. As people age, their vision deteriorates, reaction times slow, and the ability to focus fades. These physiological changes combine to make driving very difficult. In fact, drivers over the age of 85 are just as prone to accidents as newly licensed 16-year-olds. Not only do elderly drivers risk injuring themselves in an accident, but they also endanger others. Encourage your parent to have a conversation with their doctor about driving.
- Liability. If there is an accident and your elderly parent is found to be at fault, they could be sued by the injured driver. A lawsuit can jeopardize their savings, their home, and any other assets that are not protected in a trust. Telling your dad that he is one rear-end collision away from losing his life savings could be a persuasive argument.
- Maintenance. Older people often take great pride in having paid off their car, but an old car can quickly turn into a money pit. Not only are there constant necessary repairs, but the elderly are more likely than younger vehicle owners to be tricked into paying for unnecessary work. Adding up the money your parents have put into their car and comparing it to an occasional Uber ride could be enough to convince them.
Don’t broach the subject of giving up a car without offering alternative forms of transportation. Are you able to drive them where they need to go? Is public transportation easy and convenient? Presenting an alternative to driving themselves will be just as important as talking them out of the car.
How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
It could take some time to convince your parents to give up their car. In the meantime, they will be vulnerable to losing assets, even if they aren’t driving very much. When we work with Elder Law clients, asset protection is one of the key areas we discuss. Creating a trust that protects assets from litigation is one possible solution. Learn about other ways we help older clients by calling our office today.