Parents Expect to Use Children's Inheritance for Medical Bills

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With retirement savings down and anxieties about health care costs up, Americans find themselves in an awkward position on long-term medical care.

They want it, can't afford it and may have to cut into their kids' inheritance to pay for it.

Already, 71% of U.S. adults between the ages of 30 and 65 are "concerned" about long-term medical care, according to a study from Prudential.

About the same number of older Americans (those past the age of 65) will require "some type" of long-term care, yet the same study notes 63% of Americans say they have little confidence in their capacity to pay for for it. Only 10% say they are "very confident" they can afford long-term care.

What's a conflicted senior citizen to do?

Increasingly, the move is to dip into children's inheritance to get the job done.

At least, that's the word from Nationwide Financials Services, which has a report out saying 48% of U.S. adults aged 50 and over say their long-term care costs will cut into an inheritance, while 43% say they would prefer to use funds to pay for extended health care instead of handing junior a big inheritance check.

"A parent's legacy to his or her children used to include leaving behind an inheritance," says John Carter, director of distribution and sales for Nationwide Financial. "The escalating costs of health care and lack of proper planning have many Americans hoping just to break even and not be a burden to their children."

Folks in the poll, which was conducted by Harris Interactive, weren't poverty stricken. Survey participants included 813 Americans with income of $150,000 or more. But 21% of study respondents said they can't count on their children;s physical and financial support in retirement, and 78% of older Americans don't want their kids burdened with mom and dad's retirement issues.

Nationwide says at least talking to their children is a must for parents heading into retirement, especially since 29 states have laws that put the burden of payment for long-term care services on family members if parents can't afford the tab.

"It's important to start discussing LTC planning as a family and develop a well-thought-out plan so that parents and children understand where LTC funding will come from and both parties feel secure in the approach," Carter says. "Proper retirement planning should include some type of LTC insurance protection that can provide funds for someone should they have LTC expenses."