In the December 4, 2012 issue of the WSJ entitled “Time for Elder Care?”, Kristen Gerencher offered advice for children of elders needing long-term care (LTC), but included only one questionable strategy about how to prevent LTC from bankrupting Mom and Dad (and possibly reduce the kids’ inheritance to $0.00!).
Obviously timed for those family get-togethers during the holidays, the story advises adult sons & daughters to take a good look to see if Mom & Dad are slipping, either mentally or physically, and may need some LTC assistance. If so, Gerencher lists professionals who can help find the right level of assistance.
Grencher suggests that the adult children look into options, ranging from voluntary services such as nutritional programs to more expensive (but unmentioned) alternatives such as moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home.
The reporter notes – correctly – that “Medicare doesn’t cover most LTC costs” and adds that “Medicaid covers them under certain conditions.” But she fails to add that the “conditions” are typically after Mom and Dad have spent their worldly assets (the kids’ inheritance) paying for long-term care and are impoverished. She does add, however, that the kids can consult an elder law attorney to make sure that their parents’ assets are properly sheltered, but then helpfully notes that any clever actions like cash gifts or transfers of assets to junior MUST be made at least five years before the parents apply for Medicaid. Ah, hah, the first reference to planning to avoid financial ruin!!
Sadly for her readers, Gerencher does not even mention long-term care insurance LTCi), which requires frank discussion and careful planning between parents and adult children! With reasonably priced LTCi, Mom & Dad will have the funds to retain their dignity and options to defray the cost of a wide range of LTC, based on their needs. Furthermore, the whole family will be able to gather during the holidays and at other times with peace of mind and a definite plan of action if the kids notice a need for care, which research has shown will happen to about 70% of elders.
Sounds like a plan to me!