DEAR BRUCE: I hope you can shed a bit of light on long-term care insurance for me. I am almost 60, in good health and single. I will retire on my 60th birthday with a monthly pension of $2,000. I will be paying my own health insurance. I own my home. A few years back, I inherited $800,000 from a beloved aunt. This was put into CDs, when their return was 3.5 percent, and mutual funds. I have been looking at long-term care offerings. The one I find most appealing is one that assigns you a care manager for life. Because I am alone, this seems like a good option. Do you have any advice for me? — Rosie, via email
DEAR ROSIE: There are some unknowns here. I am sure you realize that you will not be eligible for Social Security for a few years, and even longer if you want to get the maximum. If you start earlier and if you live longer, that will result in a penalty. You say you are in good health. You might want to take that variable into account.
You mentioned you inherited $800,000. What is the value of that account today? Have you been withdrawing, or is it still growing? Assuming it is still growing, before you retire you will very possibly have a worth of more than $1 million, not including the value of your home.
There are many religious organizations that, for a substantial amount of money up front, will care for you for life. You would live in their facility, many of which are extremely well appointed, and in the event that you require nursing home or assisted-living care, it is provided for the rest of your life. You would still have ample funds available for vacations, cruises, etc., and to eventually leave to some charitable organizations.
DEAR BRUCE: I am married to a man who has three children. He has a mother who is 93 (soon to be 94). In 2006, there was a will that left the estate to my husband, his sister and his brother equally. After his father died, his sister got power of attorney and the will was changed. We do not know the details but were told it was the same.
During an Internet search, I found that the sister had bought a house (worth about $370,000) in April 2008 for her daughter under the name of my husband’s mother. The mother is the mortgagee. I am sure this was not done with her knowledge. Then when the house was going into foreclosure in November 2010, the sister used her power of attorney to change ownership of the house to include her daughter and her husband as mortgagees, along with the mother. The transfer was done for $1. Again, this was not done with the mother’s knowledge. I do not know where they got the money to stop the foreclosure.
The question is, what should I do with what I know? The sister is the main caregiver and I do not begrudge her benefiting, but I never thought she would be so dishonest. We are OK financially, but my husband has three children, and his brother has two children. This does not seem fair to them. I would really? appreciate an opinion. — Barbara, via email
DEAR BARBARA: When property is left in an undivided fashion, often there is a fight.
You told me the mother’s will was changed, but you don’t know in what way. In fact, she was competent at the time in 2006 when these changes were made. All of the other questions about buying the house in the mother’s name, etc., could surely be questioned by your husband, his brother, or both. You, of course, have no direct interest and no right to question.
The logical first step would be to call the sister and ask for a meeting. If she doesn’t reply or refuses that request, then the next step would be a letter from an attorney representing the two brothers saying that they would much prefer to settle this outside of the legal system, but unless she is willing to sit down and discuss this matter, they will be left with no other recourse but to address this in court. This is to no one’s advantage except for the attorneys involved. Pursue it legally or forget it.