Mitigate Financial Challenges for the Elderly with Estate Planning

As the U.S. population ages, more and more adult children are experiencing the role-reversal of being caregivers to their elderly parents. And, along with that responsibility often comes the financial burden of ensuring that their parents' needs are met.

In fact, in the last 15 years the number of people helping their parents financially has tripled to include 25 percent of adult children in the country, according to a MetLife analysis of data in the National Health and Retirement Study. Fortunately, people can ease the financial stress of caring for aging parents with careful estate planning.

Tax-Free Gifts

One option for children looking to help their parents is making direct monetary gifts. Gifts of up to $13,000 from an individual and $52,000 per year from a married couple do not incur gift taxes. In addition, children who pay money directly to health-care providers for medical bills are not required to include that amount toward their $13,000 or $52,000 annual limits. Children who are their parents' legal guardians also do not have to worry about gift taxes, since supporting their parents becomes an obligation under guardianship.

Loans

Some adult children who do not want to give their parents money as a gift may consider offering their parents loans instead. Their parents can then eliminate or reduce debt to avoid exorbitant interest rates and repay their children over time, using a low interest rate set by the Internal Revenue Service.

Mortgage Options

One of the largest assets that an elderly parent usually has is a home. Setting up a reverse mortgage where the children are the lenders may be one way to cover parents' living expenses without needing to sell the home outright. Through a reverse mortgage, children can make monthly payments to their parents and in return hold a mortgage on the home.

Consult an Attorney

Consulting an experienced estate planning attorney for assistance in creating a plan for supporting aging parents is a prudent step to take. It can help ensure that all transactions are done properly and that everyone involved understands the ramifications of the arrangements.