Scares me that my mom's well-being is in our hands. My mom is 59 and has leukemia and multiple sclerosis. My step dad is 75 (I think). They live in Alabama.

I am terribly nervous about the financial responsibility of supporting my mother if my step dad passes. I am afraid my siblings and I (there are three of us) can't afford to keep my mom healthy (she has a lot of expenses medically and her health is getting worse) if something happens to my step-dad (my step dad has a son...I don't even know what is the "right" thing to do if my mom passes first).

I am also afraid how this will affect my marriage and my relationship with my siblings. And their relationship with their spouses. I don't want anyone to fight or feel like they are being taken advantage of.

My sister has 4 kids and carrying 2 mortgages. They live on one income...she stays home with the kids...they are young. I believe when the three youngest get to school she will work again. They live in Alabama.

My brother has a child (baby) and his wife's family lives in a different country (she needs to visit's only fair) and they are also one income. She is going to school...I think getting her PHD in psychology. I think she will work eventually. They live in Alabama.

My husband and I have no kids. We live in NY. Though we have no children we do provide share support for my father in law. I am not sure if that will last forever though. It is a touchy subject. My husband and I have put off having a family. We wanted to wait until we were settled and could financially afford a family. We were thinking about doing this in in 3-5 years (if we do it). I am afraid if my mom's savings and assets don't cover here needs for life (which I do not think will) that we will not have a family. In 2013 I was diagnosed with cancer and now we have our own medical expenses (about $5K a year). I am in real estate and started working again in Jan of 2015. I have yet to make more than $2000 this year. It really affected my business and I am still very weak and depressed. Cancer is crazy. I don't know if I can work a "normal" job. We are trying to save for our future and retirement. Its tough. I feel like I need to find a salary job. Husband does not want me too because I would lose all that I have put into this career path.

I have always known this (discussion about my mom's future) was coming but it really hit hard today talking about this. I don't want one of us to feel the burden more than the other. And I don't want my mom to feel bad. We love her so much.

But how can we avoid people getting upset or sad? I think that is to be expected.

I also want to know how do we figure out what is needed to be done? We need to prepare. What steps should we be taking? Are there grants for support? What does life insurance cover (I am not sure my mom has this...I feel bad to bring it do I bring it up?). How much will it cost to support and maintain my mom? So many questions....

My mom and step dad have a home. I don't want the state or government to take away the home if we struggle. I would rather get it in our name and sell later if we have too to help pay for things. How do we do this properly?

I have not talked to my mom or my step dad about this. Only my sister and I have spoken about it. I will be speaking to my husband tonight. My brother has not been a part of this discussion yet. I believe the 6 of us (my siblings and the spouses) will be speaking about this in the next year.

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Just some random thoughts here...

1. You can build on your real estate experience with a salaried job by moving to another company that focuses on different aspects of real estate, say, something like a leasing company, which would be a salaried position with benefits.

Regional mall leasing comes to mind. The developers who create these retail magnets need skilled people with good track records.

Real estate development would be interesting but I haven't kept up with that field since the recession, so I don't know how solid it might be. There was a period of time during which banks weren't that generous with funds for real estate development; I don't know how much that has changed.

You might also leverage your real estate experience to move into sale of higher value homes, such as the estate homes, or consider commercial real estate.

2. Although you might be switching career paths, the skills, especially the people skills, are valuable for other careers. So you wouldn't be losing those basic, innate qualities, just using them in a different manner.

And the skills necessary to deal with a range of people are valuable in many fields, including management.

3. However, I wouldn't even consider trying to move into a new field until you're stable from cancer treatment. It's challenging enough without trying to start another job. Use your recovery period to explore other options in real estate, or something close to it where you can use the same skill sets.

4. You are very, very wise to address these caregiving issues before they arise. And there are a lot of wise people here who will offer help. Watch for the most answers early in the morning and during the evening hours.

5. I do think that the issue of estate planning for your parents is one that requires legal involvement, but there is a lot of research and planning that you and your siblings can do yourselves. That's an issue for a separate answer!

6. Just generally, I would begin by listing all of your concerns as you've done here (I like checklists), potential solutions, level of family involvement required/available, and concerns. This could be your basic outline from which to start. You can divide up the research issues with your siblings.

7. The Alabama relatives may know what's available since they're there; they could do research by contacting the local Area Agency on Aging as well as the Alabama state offices and local communities to determine what is and what isn't available within the area... good care places, good care agencies, senior center support, Meals on Wheels and similar issues.

8. Perhaps the biggest and potentially most pressing issue might be whether your mother will be able to continue to live in her own home, depending on the state of her MS and leukemia. I think I would make that a priority in determining and assessing what you might need and what's available.

9. Research the leukemia and MS websites to see if any resources are available from them. Research to determine if there's a local Gilda's Club in Alabama.

10. Ask the siblings to consider what roles each of you can play; since you're out of state, they may need to take the role in the hands-on activities, so think what you can do from NY to provide support and relief for on-site siblings, such as financial issues, vacation respites, etc. This is going to be necessary so that the on-site siblings don't feel overwhelmed and responsible for a disproportionate share of responsibilities.

The kinds of data you have to collect as a realtor are different, but it's still a data collection and research process, so you can use your career skills to begin the process of developing a care plan.

There are a lot of other issues which I'm sure others will raise.

And again, my complements and admiration are with you for the methodical and thorough way you're approaching these issues.

Personally I don't believe grants are offered for caregiving, but I've never researched this issue.
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Before any plans are put in place for the future you need to know what your mom and stepfather's income is. What are their assets? I know it's an uncomfortable discussion to have but you have to know what you're working with first before you can do anything else. Is there a will? Life insurance? Who, if anyone, has POA? Do either of them have burial plots already purchased? What is their house worth right now?

You and your siblings aren't responsible for financially supporting your mom and stepfather but you need to know what their financial situation is before you can begin to discuss the what-ifs.
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you wrote, "My mom and step dad have a home. I don't want the state or government to take away the home if we struggle. I would rather get it in our name and sell later if we have too to help pay for things. How do we do this properly? "
This really bothers me, because you are intending on shifting the costs of your parents' care, from the parents own assets, onto the taxpayers. This is not the intent of Medical Assistance use. Why would you want to do this?
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To clarify my comment above, yes, the kids always "want something" from their parents.....but, the parents house is probably their largest liquidatable asset. As such, if they are in need of a lot more care, and they have NOTHING else, Medicaid will provide in-home care up to a certain point (usually about 20-30 hours), but they will at some point say, The in-home care is costing more than the nursing home, and they will "demand" that mom & dad move to a facility, and have their home sold to pay the nursing home costs. It's the right thing to do, so let it happen, and FOCUS on your OWN needs. You should get healthy, and if you are blessed with a pregnancy, FOCUS on that.
Let mom and dad's care needs go to their doctors, and if they need a lot more care, they can sell the home and pay for whatever increased needs they have.
If by some chance they both die, and still have a home, I do hope they have already set up a Will....and in that case, guess what, I bet they leave their home to the 3 kids, in which case---it will probably STILL be sold, so it can be divided among the 3 kids. So, in essence, avoid any thoughts of the house being "in our name". Even if they continue to live in it, after they die, Medical Assistance has the MERP (where they recover the costs of their care, from the Estate).
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lorny543, yes, I think I understand now, and from what you describe your parents do have some assets---so they really need to seek advice from an elder care attorney. They should choose one who has experience with financial planning. They may never get to the point of needing facility care (this is the best scenario!) but if they do, are you aware that nursing home costs are about $80,000 to $100,000 per year? Boggles the mind....but 6 months in there will probably wipe out most peoples savings. Then the remaining spouse gets very nervous---how am I going to live? It's true that the remaining spouse does get to stay in the family home....but how are they going to pay for their utilities, replace a roof, etc. That's why your parents need to set things up now, to protect themselves (not the kids' inheritance, you can just about count on not inheriting anything unless there is over a million in assets). All parents assets need to be used for their needs is the gist of what I'm saying. Too many people nowadays try to wheedle their way into the government welfare system and this causes problems for the millions of people who truly do not have any assets.
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lorny, tighten your seat belt as this journey could be a bumpy ride, or a smooth ride. First off, the grown children are not responsible to finance their parent's care, unless they can afford to do so and want to do so.... if your Mom eventually runs out of money she can apply to Medicaid which will help pay for her housing and medical needs.

But please note that Medicaid could place a lien on your Mom's house to cover the cost of her care, it all depends on the State your Mom lives in, their rules, regulations, and programs. It's impossible for us here on the forums to keep up with all the States, thus you will need to call Alabama's Medicaid office.

Be careful about wanting to change the Deed over to your name. If your Mom needs to apply for Medicaid, the said program has a financial look back of 5 years. If they see that the house went from your Mom's name to your name within those 5 years, Medicaid will consider that a "gift" And your Mom would have to pay out of her own pocket for her own care up to the value of that house. Again, it all depends on how Alabama works this.

As for you working, working is the best thing, it gets you out of the house and among people. Yes, cancer can drain the daylights out of you. If you don't want to run the roads with Clients, see if any of the super top Agents in your office would like a part-time assistant to do research on the MLS, etc. You can keep your license and still be an independent contractor for that Agent.
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Thanks for your post. No I am not wanting to shift the cost to the tax payers. My siblings and I will pay as long as we can (we talked last night some).

If we need help to pay then we will sell our parent's assets to pay and or help. If this is still what you are talking about in regards to having tax payers pay for care will you please explain because I am confused as to why this results in tax payers having to pay.

I am new to this and don't know. The thought of this is overwhelming.

I spoke to someone else who recently lost her mother and she told us to put everything in our name and pay out of pocket for as long as we can. If money runs out then we can fall back on the assets.

My parents assets are in real estate. We would put the properties on the market for sale. I am certain my siblings and I have the means to support for at least 5 years. We are all in our 30's. Our savings accounts are not much but we do have money saved.

My husband and I talked last night and we are determined to support as long as we can. And I spoke to my sister today. She and her husband spoke last night as well. My sister said the same thing. I will speak to my brother shortly as well.

We all may be able help for longer than 5 years out of our own pockets...we don't know. We are just trying to think ahead. We don't want to be blind sided and then make mistakes or bad decision. We also want to make sure my mom is well.

I also have to speak to my parents. My siblings and I are thinking worse case senario.

Maybe my mom has enough savings and maybe my step does too. For all we know they have been planning for this for a while and choose not to share their plans with us for whatever reason. The topic has never come up. Yesterday when my sister and I spoke about this, it was the first time ever.

I realize my parents may already have thought about everything and are not worried or talking about it because they have everything thought out and planned.

My mom is not in a wheel chair, though she uses a walker. She is still working part time and is in good spirits. She is doing well for now. But she will be doing chemo ago soon and she has MS (she walks with a walker). She came to visit me a couple weeks ago and I can see a shift in her energy.

Maybe we are thinking about this all wrong. Maybe we are not asking the right questions. We don't know. This is just day two of this conversation. That is why I am on this forum and asking. To educate ourselves. To figure it out now versus later. We need a game plan. In a month when I go back home to visit everyone in Alabama my siblings and I will bring up this conversation with our parents.
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malloryg8r: The idea of putting my mom in a home makes me sad. I know the day may come when that will make sense. But for now the plan is, if my mom wants, is for her to come live with my husband and I. My husband agrees. Plus like you said the cost of putting anyone in a nursing home is crazy expensive. My sister and brother, if needed, will provide support. The specifics of that support have yet to be figured out. I am sure we will get an attorney to help us figure out the best way to do this. But yes hopefully the assets my parents have is sufficient. My mom and I very close. Her living with me makes least for now I think it does. That could change if she says she does not want to live in NY. But I think she would be okay with it. She used to live close to where I live today and she talks about this area quite often. And we have some other family members close by here too that she is close too as well.
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It is rare that having a senior live with you works out. In last generations it was the norm, that is true but nowadays young people (you're in your 30's) are very mobile. And having your home modified to accommodate the needs of a senior, especially if they are ill, is quite a challenge. There are huge financial questions -- if mom used her assets to remodel your home, somewhere down the road, your siblings might be jealous at the added value to what is your home. Maybe an attorney can help you see the potential for family rifts, with having a parent live with one of the kids. It is not usually a good idea, but maybe, with the right protections (for your sanity....) you can make it work.
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lorny, I agree with GardenArtist you are wise to plan. But many of the things I worried about never happened, and lots of challenges arise that I never even dreamt of. This road we are on is never smooth, but sometimes family will surprise you and rise to the occasion. Have faith that whatever happens, you will figure it out with help from a few good doctors, lawyers, husband, siblings, and friends here.
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