Planning Ahead for Those Middle-Aged with Health Issues

Caregiving for all: November 15, 2022     Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

In my last topic, I shared how important it is for seniors to share their financial plans, with family, for later in life. I have found it to be important to have those conversations with your children, so they aren’t surprised by your decisions or have no clue of what you would like after you pass. This part of Planning Ahead involves talking to a lawyer, not only about a will but also about how you want your estate to be handled. When I cared for my parents, they started the process of rewriting their wills when they both were diagnosed with serious illnesses.  The lawyer helped them rewrite their wills and held a phone conference (no zoom in the late 80s) with our entire family.  My parents decided to create a Life Estate.  Since I was the only sibling living in Moorhead and close to our parents, the Life Estate was put into my name.  I am NOT going to give you details on Facebook, or the Website,  but if you message me, or contact me directly, I will be glad to give some details on what we did.  This is the statement of a Life Estate in Minnesota I searched for: The term “life estate” describes a kind of joint ownership of the real estate, such as a house. You can sell or give your home to your children, but keep the right to live in, or control the home until you die.  Each state has different laws on how to use a Life Estate.  I can give you an example of what my wife did with her family cabin.  Over a decade ago, she wrote a notarized letter to the seven family owners of the cabin (LLC) giving her share to our children.  We did this to make sure the family was aware of the change, and to protect the property if she ever needed medical assistance.  This made it easier for the family if she ended up needing nursing care full-time.  With the way their LLC is written, a share can’t be sold to anyone outside of the families that own the cabin, and their extended heirs. It is too late to create a Life Estate when the ambulance is rushing you to the emergency room.  Life Estates don’t work for every family.  That is why it is important to do this when your parents have reached retirement, or have learned of a health scare.  If your parents decide to sell your childhood home to move somewhere else to rent or buy something smaller, a good estate lawyer can help you protect their investment for the children if they desire.  Learn about it now so you understand later. There is a “look back period”  when your parents start needing special care and they need assistance, the county can look back at their financial records for the previous five years.  Again, each state is different, but your lawyer can help you navigate the laws in your state.  (e.g., your parent is hospitalized and will not be able to return home.  You CAN NOT start giving all the money away, even if it is documented in the will.)


There is another option to think about “Long-term Care Insurance.”  This is something you would want to do before you become ill and when younger.  Again, check this option to make sure it is the right fit for you.  Work with a local nationally known company with a good track record.  Out-of-state companies with no local connection could be a problem.  It is always better to be proactive, than reactive.


Losing a parent is very difficult.  Don’t make it worse by leaving your estate a big secret and well hidden.  Plan Ahead!


I appreciate hearing from you. Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think. I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you, positive or negative. My email address is attached, or you can call the church for my phone number.

God bless you and keep you. His face will shine down on you and give you peace.