Dear Annie: Money and caregiving

Annie Lane

Dear Annie: My husband and I are both in our mid-80s, and we are beginning to experience health issues. We have four children from his former marriage. We have been married for 48 years. I have always expected to go to a nursing home when my health declines to that point. My husband vehemently says he will never go to one. I do know that once your funds and ability to pay are exhausted, a nursing home takes all your remaining possessions, Social Security payments, etc. We have a fair amount of money, nearly $1 million, and I am wondering whether this should be discussed with any of the potential heirs in the event they would like to offer care in lieu of losing all that money to a nursing home.

It almost seems like a bribe, and I’m not comfortable talking about our finances with family. We have always been extremely independent. We have lived all over the country, so our ties are not like those of a lot of parents. Neither of us wants to live in any of their homes, but we think that perhaps a granny pad on one of their properties might work. We both feel that if someone is willing to do this, that person should receive a bigger piece of the pie when we die.

Of course, if one of us were to suffer a stroke or have some illness that requires more care, this arrangement probably wouldn’t work. Is there a right way to have this conversation or somewhere other than with an attorney to make end-of-life plans? We currently have a trust and a standard will. We live thousands of miles from these children but are contemplating moving to be closer and wondering whether a conversation should be had prior to our doing anything. — Planning Ahead

Dear Planning Ahead: Yes, have the conversation with your children before you move. It wouldn’t be bribery for you to offer more money to one of your adult children if he or she would like you to take on caregiving duties. It would simply be fair. If it helps, think of it as rent. The AARP’s “Planning for Long-Term Care” guide is a great resource to help you ensure you’re covering all your bases. You can download it from the AARP’s website ( or order a copy by calling 888-OUR-AARP.

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