THE FINANCIAL FOCUS 5-1-21
By Michael Vondra
Here’s a long-lasting Mother’s Day gift
Mother’s Day has almost arrived. As an adult, you can fully appreciate all your mother has done for you, so, on this occasion, you may be happy to give Mom flowers, candy, jewelry or something similar. But Mother’s Day is here and then it’s gone. Is there a longer-term gift that can make a real difference in your mother’s life?
Actually, there is – the gift of knowledge for her financial future.
Specifically, there are two key areas in which you may be able to provide valuable help to your mother: long-term care and estate planning. But don’t panic – you don’t have to be an expert in either one of these subjects. You can, however, steer Mom – and possibly your other parent, too, if one is in the picture – in the right direction. Let’s take a quick look at both these topics.
First, consider long-term care. If your mother is in good health, you may not have thought much about whether she would eventually need an extended stay in a nursing home or the services of a home health aide. But the odds aren’t necessarily in her favor: About 70 percent of adults who reach 65 will eventually require some type of long-term service and support, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. And this type of care is expensive: The annual median cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $100,000, and it’s nearly $55,000 per year for the full-time services of a home health aide, according to a survey by the insurance company Genworth.
Unless your mother has accumulated a great deal of financial resources, she likely won’t be able to pay these costs out of pocket without jeopardizing her financial independence. Furthermore, Medicare typically pays only a small portion of these expenses.
To help your mother deal with this potential financial threat, you might want to suggest she meet with a financial professional, who can explore possible strategies and products designed to address long-term care. And the sooner, the better, because these solutions will become more expensive and challenging the older your mother gets.
The second topic you may want to bring up with your mother is her estate plan. Has she drafted a will? Has she safeguarded her wishes by creating the necessary legal documents? These could include a durable power of attorney for finances, which allows her to name someone to manage her financial affairs if she becomes incapacitated, and a durable power of attorney for health care, which allows someone to make medical decisions for her if she is able to do so herself.
Having her estate plans in order can help protect your mother’s finances and ensure her legacy is honored – which is almost certainly an outcome she would keenly desire. So, if your mother doesn’t already have a comprehensive estate plan, encourage her to see a legal professional to start the process.
Helping your mother protect herself from the catastrophic costs of long-term care and the chaos of an inadequate estate plan may not sound like a typical Mother’s Day offering, but your actions can help keep Mom in a good place in life –and that’s a pretty valuable gift.
Michael A Vondra
Certified Financial Planner Practitioner