The Second Marriage Long Term Care Problem Revisited
Last year I wrote about the impact long term care has on a second marriage (see blog post 1/5/09). In the 19 months since then, I have seen an increasing number of second marriage “horror stories”. A call we received last week, again highlights the danger. Joe, a 70 year old widower, moved into a continuing care retirement community. He met Betty, a 75 year old widow, and developed a fast friendship. Eventually it led to marriage. Joe and Betty promised to care for each other “until death do they part.” That’s when the problems began for Joe.
A few years after their wedding Betty began a physical and mental decline that led to her need for assisted living and then nursing home care. Betty had savings of $200,000, as did Joe, but no long term care insurance. She lived long enough to spend her entire savings plus much of Joe’s. When she died Joe had only $75,000 in savings left. Joe and Betty were completely unprepared for how long term care would affect them. And Joe was totally unaware that Betty could have qualified Medicaid before she died.
Now, Joe’s health is declining. He never before shared his finances with his children so they were shocked to learn that his savings had been depleted. They are concerned that he will not be able to stay in the retirement community when his remaining funds are exhausted. I asked Joe, Jr. what his dad’s agreement with the community says about that. He doesn’t know because he’s never seen the contract. Dad said he could handle things himself, signing the 40 page plus contract without getting a second opinion. Well, he clearly can’t take care of things any longer. Joe, Jr. and his siblings will now have to make some tough decisions. But instead of having a plan in place with options to choose from, the family instead is reacting in crisis mode. Not the best situation to be in and one that could have easily been avoided.