I am a widow and wish to leave my house and investments to my 4 children equally. Any advice?

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Is it a good idea to transfer title to all my investments and home to my children immediately or should I wait and simply leave all to them in my will so the property will be dispersed after my death? What if I become needy and have to enter an assisted living facility or worse? If I have to liquidate all my assets to pay for medical care there will be nothing left for the children.

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Prevent, you've received excellent ideas above. Between my husband and myself, we have been caregivers/estate settlers for 4 individuals. We consider the greatest gift that each offered us is their own financial security. It allowed us to hire live-in caregivers, move them to beautiful senior and assisted living facilities, get the best specialists and transportation to those specialists, etc.
It is rare that a responsible advisor would recommend that you distribute your investments and assets while you may need them. You don't mention your age or health situation but I would urge you to meet with a responsible advisor and listen to the ideas. A Will allows you to leave your assets in equal parts to your children. The advisor may assess your situation and advise some gifting if you are truly VERY wealthy. Continuing care communities, assisted living, live-in help all are costly.  I would rather be able to take care of myself, the 'kids' can have what is left over.  
AND as an aside, despite some heavy duty expenses, each of the 4 individuals that we helped through their final days, had leftovers to distribute.  
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I have already told my kids it is unlikely there will be anything left after we are gone!
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We're actually starting the will/trust process this week! Yeah! Finally got hubby on board!
I will follow our attorney's advice. First we need to make sure we're both cared for financially, and after that, the kids can inherit what's left. I trust my kids implicitly, but don't want any drama over money, ever.

I'm looking fwd to seeing what our estate planner says.
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My take on aging & it’s costs is that unless you are generationally wealthy, if you live long enough.... you will run out of money & your family will run of ability; & so you will need a facility and likely to paid through Medicaid. You should plan with Medicaid in mind.

You have investments so you have a FA, right? I’d ask your FA for the names of elder law or estate attys they work with and meet with one along with the child who will be your executor or trustee to discuss options as to how to structure your assets so IF you need to go onto Medicaid everything done correctly to shift assets so Medicaid compliant.

Also one of the experts on AC, Atty. Gabriel Heiser has a book on Medicaid planning, “Medicaid Secrets”, really worthwhile to buy or borrow from library.
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My father says he wants to leave his money to my daughter and I. I want him to spend it on my mother’s and his care.

It’s just that getting old is very expensive now, it’s not like it used to be where people died in their 60s and 70s, my parents are 88 and 86 and I believe they’re going to live another ten years at least.

So do something really nice for your kids and have all the paperwork ready that they’ll need to manage your care and enough money to keep you in a nice place.
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preventec47, I agree with jeannegibbs and cwillie above, it's your money for your care. And to make an appointment with an Elder Law Attorney to help plan your future care.

Every parent would like to leave assets to their child(ren), but sometimes that isn't always the case. Funds can get used up for health care and for assisted living care.

Since you have major assets, that is good, then later down the road it can give you more choices when the time comes when you need skilled care. You can choose to live at home and hire professional caregivers, or you can choose whatever Independent Living or Assisted Living facility you wish to reside.

Otherwise, if you give your children most of your assets, then your choices become limited. You may need to apply to Medicaid [which is different from Medicare], and need to move into a nursing home that accepts Medicaid, or have your children quit their jobs and/or leave their families to be your caregiver.

As Jeanne had mentioned above, Medicaid would subtract the value of the investments and the current market value of the house from your care. Then someone, probably your grown children, would need to come up with the money.

Oh, one really good reason not to title the house over to your grown children has to do with Capital Gains Taxes. If the children obtain the house now, then when the time comes to sell the house, then the tax basis goes all the way back to when you had bought the house.

If the house is inherited, then the tax basis just goes back to the day you had passed.
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It is an unfortunate fact that old age today often costs more than most people have saved over their lives. Don't give away anything until you speak with a lawyer familiar with medicaid and estate planning.

As well as planning for your estate I'd like you to think about the role your children have played in your life now and in the coming years. Is there one or more of your children that you rely on more than the others? When the time come that you need help will one of them step into the role of caregiver? I know that parents sometimes try very hard to treat all their children equally, but if one child is doing the heavy lifting and the others are not then equal isn't really the same as fair, is it. If this happens in your family I would urge you to pay for any care given by setting up a fair caregiver compensation agreement.
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Your assets need to be used first for your own care. If there are any left over at your death, they can be distributed as your will directs.

If you give everything away and then need financial help for your care there will be penalty period when you will not be eligible for Medicaid.

And, yes, it is entirely possible that you could exhaust all your own resources and have nothing left to leave your children. In fact, this is becoming more and more common.

Please don't do anything without consulting an attorney who specializes in Elder Law.
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