This article, authored by Claudia Mott, was originally posted on NJMoneyhelp.com
Q. If one spouse dies and the other is handicapped, children or relatives may have to offer assistance. A live-in aide may be one temporary but costly option. What is the best method to have an emergency fund for children to access funds quickly in such a case to have funds available to children or close relatives?
— Need advice
A. Caring for an older relative who needs help can be challenging, both financially and emotionally.
It’s good that you are planning ahead in terms of how best to provide for your loved one’s care.
One option to consider would be a joint account in both the parent and the trusted child or relative’s name, said Claudia Mott, a certified financial planner with Epona Financial Solutions in Basking Ridge.
This would require the child to be over the age of 18, she said.
“The account could be held at a bank as either a checking or savings account or possibly with an investment firm,” she said. “By having joint-title on the account, the funds could be accessed as needed to assist with the care of the disabled individual.”
But, she said, it’s important to understand that in the event of death, the other joint owner will receive the assets in the account, which may not be what is intended.
You should also realize that how assets are held can have an impact on eligibility for Medicaid benefits, so keep that in mind, also.
A power of attorney is another avenue to consider.
“This document, usually drafted by an estate attorney along with a will and healthcare proxy, gives those named the right to act on behalf of an individual,” Mott said. “When a power of attorney is put in place, financial accounts, such as a bank account, can be accessed so that funds are available to cover the needs of the incapacitated person.”
Trusts can also be put in place to protect assets and enable them to be distributed by the named trustees for the care of the beneficiary, Mott said, noting it would make sense to meet with an estate planning attorney who can provide options based on your family’s specific situation.
Email your questions to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.com.
This story was originally published on Feb. 7, 2023.
NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.