Best Gift for Mom: Financial Security

Forget flowers. Help mom with estate planning, long-term care insurance and mortgages.
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Mother's Day is Sunday, and I have an idea that's better than a card or flowers.

It's the gift of financial peace of mind -- and it's priceless! Plus, it's easy for you procrastinators to organize at the last minute.

Here's a tip: Moms worry. They worry about a lot of things, and they worry all the time, even though it doesn't always show. (Believe me. I'm a mom. Or ask my son!)

Moms worry about things they


control, and they worry even more about things they


control. Mostly, moms worry about their kids. They never stop worrying about their kids, no matter how old they -- or the kids -- get.

And at the back of a mom's mind is always another secret, never-expressed worry that grows over the years. Moms worry about being dependent. They worry about growing old and running out of money, about being "bag ladies."

That's the basis of my Mother's Day gift idea. And since you're smart enough to be a reader of

, you're in a perfect position to create that gift.

It starts with getting your mother to talk about her financial worries and being a patient listener. Single moms have different worries than those with spouses. But I'll bet that nearly every mom will start the discussion with the words "I don't want to be a burden on you."

That's your gift opportunity. Now you can offer creative solutions to her deepest worries. If you have brothers and sisters, they can join you in financing the gift, in case your parents can't afford to buy it themselves.

The Gift of an Estate Plan

What if Dad has a serious stroke or dies? It's a nagging worry. But if your parents have a recently created or reviewed estate plan, some of that worry goes away. A revocable living trust will give the successor trustee the power to make financial decisions if one parent is incapacitated. A health care power of attorney is a must. And a living will, an end-of-life decision document, can save heartache in trying times.

So, type up a gift certificate for an estate plan. Better yet, contact an estate-planning attorney in your parents' state and set up an appointment for mom and dad. Tell the attorney to send the bill to you.

No one likes to plan for such a dark day, but once you've done this for your parents, they'll feel better, and so will you. Take it from me. An estate plan was my joint Mother's Day/ Father's Day gift to my parents several years ago.

The Gift of Long-Term-Care Insurance

Nothing can devastate a family's finances at a faster rate than the need for long-term custodial care. Current costs average $6,000 a month, whether for care in the home or in a nursing home. And those prices will escalate as that kind of help becomes more in demand for baby boomers.

Long-term-care insurance policies are designed to cover those costs, whether they are at home, in an assisted-living facility or a nursing home. For a Mother's Day starter, you can go to a Web site such as or just to get a policy quote. Then you and your siblings might want to start the application process and even pay the annual premiums. If one or both of your parents need this type of care, believe me, having a long-term-care insurance policy will be invaluable.

Instead of just giving Mom flowers and a card with a poem in it, give her the promise of a policy that will eliminate the "bag lady" worry.

The Gift of a Reverse Mortgage

Earlier this week, I

wrote about reverse mortgages that can give seniors a monthly tax-free check for converting their home equity into income. Many older moms are silently scrimping on food and other basics as they struggle to keep up the family home. When heating bills and property taxes rise, the worries overwhelm them -- and retired parents don't qualify for home-equity loans.

Ask your Mom how she feels about the family home and what she worries about. Then, as part of your Mother's Day card, next to the word "love" write down how much income she could receive on a monthly basis from a reverse mortgage. To get that number, go to the Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association's

Web site and use its mortgage calculator. It will give you the potential amount your mom may qualify to receive based on her age, location and the value of the home.

That's how to really celebrate Mother's Day: The gift of financial peace of mind. It will be a gift she'll truly appreciate because you've taken away a huge worry. That's the Savage Truth.

Terry Savage is an expert on personal finance and also appears as a commentator on national television on issues related to investing and the financial markets. Savage?s personal finance column in the Chicago Sun-Times is nationally syndicated, and she released her fourth book,

The Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Need?

in June 2005. Savage was the first woman trader on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and is a registered investment adviser for stocks and futures. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan, Savage currently serves as a director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Corp. She also has served on the boards of McDonald?s and Pennzoil.