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Should My Parents Spend The Money They Saved on Care?

Important financial guidance when it comes to caring for an older parent.

This is one of the most commonly asked money questions by children when it comes to caring for an older parent. 

No one really wants to spend money for health care.  We all want care to be covered by some form of insurance.  It is a very common perception that Medicare covers everything, when unfortunately, this is simply not the case.

Today custodial care is only covered by long term care insurance, and even that insurance rarely covers unlimited care for as long as you need it.  This means using some savings or investments will likely be necessary to pay for care.
First, one needs to step back and consider what the money was saved for.  In fact, you may need to ask your parent what their intent was for the money that they saved.  Some individuals save diligently so that they will have enough money to care for themselves and never become a burden to others.  Others save their money to leave to their children and grandchildren or a favorite charity, planning that their children will care for them.   Some have enough to cover multiple options.  Find out what your parent’s intent is, and then do your very best to help them live it out.

Sure, it is very difficult to write checks for care when it could be money that you would inherit under different circumstances. Thinking that the money could be yours is very appealing. But in no way should this influence your better judgement.

So, the best thing you can do is to be proactive with your parents finances before you are reacting to a crisis. Ask the questions and establish a plan with them long before care is ever needed.  Do not accept that he or she will be fine without help, especially if signs of distress are everywhere. 

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