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  • Care for those who cared for you

    Your parents spent years caring for you when you were a child. There may come a time for you to return the favor. Understanding how elder care can affect your life — and your parents’ — will help you feel confident that you’re making informed decisions about their health, happiness and welfare.

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  • How to manage your parents’ financial affairs

    You and your parents should discuss a plan for managing their finances should the need arise in the future.

  • The legal issues you’ll want to address

    Various legal steps will need to be taken to give you the ability to manage your parents’ affairs.

  • Ways of paying for healthcare and long-term care

    Health and long-term care insurance can help provide you with financial confidence.

Topics and resources

Helping your parents manage their finances

This can be a sensitive issue. After all, giving up control of your finances can be a difficult decision for anyone. Having the discussion well before the need arises can lay the groundwork and provide you information you may need later.

Work with your parents to establish a budget designed to make their assets last as long as possible. Remember to include:

  • Income sources — retirement accounts, Social Security and disability benefits
  • Financial assets — bank accounts, investments, life insurance and cash
  • Bills — Utilities, services and subscriptions
  • Real estate — homes, investment properties and vacation properties
  • Other assets — automobiles, boats and inheritances
  • Liabilities — Mortgages, personal loans, credit cars and car loans

The bottom line

Preparing ahead of time for the care of your aging parents can help you preserve your finances and theirs, while giving your parents more options to sustain their quality of life.

Legal issues

Help position yourself to protect your parents’ interests — as well as your own — by taking the following legal steps in preparation for the time when they may be needed. While it may be difficult for parents to share and plan for giving over control of legal, health and financial matters, having these mechanisms in place may help you more quickly act on their behalf in the future:

  • Joint bank account ownership – Allows you to act on your parents’ behalf and access funds for their care in an emergency
  • Establishing a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances (DPA) – A mechanism for your parents to give you the legal authority to make all financial decisions on their behalf
  • Creating a Health Care Power of Attorney – Allows your parents to give you the legal right to make decisions regarding their medical treatment when they are temporarily or permanently unable to make their own
  • Helping them draft a living will – Once in place, this directs medical professionals to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment according to your parent’s wishes, such as if he or she is diagnosed with a terminal condition and is no longer able to state his or her preference

The bottom line

Preparing ahead of time for the care of your aging parents can help you preserve your finances and theirs, while giving your parents more options to sustain their quality of life.

Paying for healthcare and long-term care

You may want to have a discussion now with your parents about how to pay for health expenses and long-term care in the future. That can help make sure you’re all on the same page about where those funds will come from.

If your parents 65 or older, Medicare can be a big help. Private supplemental insurance, known as Medigap, may cover many things Medicare won’t. Together, they can provide fairly comprehensive coverage.

For seniors who are disabled or qualify as low-income, Medicaid is also an option for funding medical care. Eligibility requirements are intricate, so you should speak with a Medicaid planning specialist before applying.

Typically, there are three ways to pay for long-term care:

From savings:

Before paying out of pocket be sure you or your parents don’t qualify for assistance. You should turn to your savings only if you have to.

Government Benefits:

If your parents have little income and few assets, Medicaid may pay for their nursing home care. Keep in mind that Medicare covers only short-term stays in a nursing home for the purpose of rehabilitation after a period of hospitalization. 

If your parent is a veteran, he or she may be eligible for care in a VA facility.

Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI):

The peace of mind offered by LTCI may well be worth the premiums. Try to purchase it as early as you can, since premiums may rise with age. When shopping for long-term care insurance, pay close attention to the daily benefit, among other provisions, to be sure it covers as much of the nursing home care costs as possible.

If you provide more than half of a parent’s support, you may qualify for a tax exemption by claiming them as your dependents. You may also be able to claim a federal tax credit for a portion of the cost of in-home day care.

Take the next step

Buying supplemental health insurance: Medigap

Understanding long-term care insurance

Do your parents need long-term care insurance?

The bottom line

Preparing ahead of time for the care of your aging parents can help you preserve your finances and theirs, while giving your parents more options to sustain their quality of life.

Caring for aging parents

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This information is provided for informational purposes only. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding all personal finance issues.

Please be advised that this document is not intended as legal or tax advice.  Accordingly, any tax information provided in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.  The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (New York, NY) issues life insurance and annuity products. Securities offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, member FINRA, SIPC. AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company and AXA Advisors are affiliated and do not provide tax or legal advice.

GE 89712 (08/2014)