My husband and I are working very hard to plan for our retirement years. We have been good savers from the start and have never planned for there to be outside resources to aid us in our retirement. With the state of Social Security, we feel we may end up being means-tested out of those benefits even though we have paid into the system our entire lives. We also don’t count on an inheritance from anywhere to secure our future.
To be sure it is hard to plan for all eventualities. I believe that the biggest block to retirement is the cost of healthcare. Maintaining access to a health plan through work seems, under the current circumstances in our country, to be the best option. While it is possible to purchase healthcare outside of the workplace, we have not done a good job of making it really affordable for anything beyond a catastrophic plan; and as you age, you may find yourself needing more medical attention than you once did.
In helping my parents with their medical care needs, we have focused on utilizing their means in the best way possible. They purchased long-term-care insurance years ago and that is helpful to be sure. They also have a supplemental policy that fills in some of the gaps in their Medicare benefits.
But let’s be clear, their assets are their assets. They are not my future inheritance or my retirement security.
Over my years working as a nurse in senior living settings, I encountered families that appeared to be more focused on how to protect their perceived inheritance than on making sure that their parent had the care that they needed. I understand a family’s desire to use the resources wisely so that they last as long as possible (because sometimes the care can go on for years), but struggled with those who were thinking of their own desires first; feeling somehow entitled to what the parents had.
Many families spend a great deal of time and energy trying to transfer and hide their parent’s assets. Why? If your parents have saved and have the means to pay for the care they now require, isn’t that what the savings should be used for? Is that not why they saved? Were they not preparing for their own needs at some time in the future?
Just like I am doing now, saving for my future, I must acknowledge that my parents did the same thing. Now that Dad needs the care that he is receiving in a nursing facility, I feel very lucky that his planning has provided the means to pay for his care. I am glad of that! Not mad that I have to use his money to pay for his care.
It’s not my money! My parent’s money is meant for their needs just like I hope to save for the time when I might need care. I hope that by saving and planning for my future, I will save my children the worry of wondering where the money is going to come from to pay for my care needs. If there is something left for my children after I am gone, that’s a bonus and they will be welcome to it! After all, at that point, I won’t be needing it. (FYI kids, Dad and I plan to ENJOY retirement, Lord willing, but we’ll try not to spend every last penny)
Please, don’t get me wrong. You should get assistance in managing the assets and protect them as much as legally possible. But, if and when the funds and assets need to be utilized to care for your parents, honor their lives by providing them with the care they deserve.
On the journey with you…….Kathy