Sustainable Financial Planning: Defending Your Financial Legacy


November 22, 2022

Estate Planning - Sustainable Financial Planning can preserve generational Financial Legacy

Updated November 23, 2022

How Long Can We Make Our Money Last?

Here in Arkansas, parents strive to raise their children right, and to leave a financial legacy for their children. Today, I want to take you on a journey. We are going to take a trip to Farmville, USA. We will visit the home of our good friends. This allegory, while fictitious, bears commonality with many families we have worked with through the years. Experience helping to preserve financial legacy in the lives of actual families and individuals has led us to write an eBook. You can download it for free by clicking here. While it is downloading, please join me in Farmville, USA as I introduce you to our good friends, Frank & Martha and show you how sustainable financial planning helped to defend their financial legacy.

Frank & Martha’s home was much more than just a house. It is where they had lived their entire married life. It is also where they raised their three children Bob, Susie, and Jeffrey. The kids would stop by Mom and Dad’s house every Sunday after church and enjoy a family lunch together. After lunch, the family would hang around and visit. In the summertime they would go outside and play horseshoes or volleyball. Then, in wintertime, they would sit around the dining table and play some card games while they were visiting. This homestead atmosphere was only a small part of what Frank & Martha hoped to leave behind. Frank & Martha knew that they needed to affect their generations with a positive financial, family, and loving legacy. The last thing they wanted was to see all of their hard work come to nothing.

All Good Things Come to an End

These good times seemed like they would go on forever, but all good things must come to an end. It all came to an end one winter day when Martha slipped on the top step of her porch as she was exiting her house on the way to church. She had broken her hip.

Additionally, Martha had been declining some cognitively recently. Her cognitive decline wasn’t noticeable to anyone except Frank, who was with her full-time. Frank did a good job of taking up slack for Martha and was quick to answer for her in conversations so that her cognitive lapses weren’t as noticeable to friends or family.

After her hip surgery, it seemed like Martha’s cognitive decline kicked into high gear. Frank, who was struggling with health issues of his own, was no longer able to care for his wife at home. After consultation with the doctor, the decision was made to admit Martha to a nursing home.

But what about our home?

Frank was told that once he would need to “spend down” (the hot topic of our FREE eBook) so that Martha would qualify for Medicaid assistance.

“But what about our home, and our financial legacy?” Frank asked. The nursing home assured him that no one would kick him out of his home – he could live there for the rest of his life. It would be exempted “for now”.

The words “for now” were unsettling to Frank. Martha is living in the nursing home and Frank could live at home “for now”, but what about later? This home was special to his whole family.

After a little more investigation, Frank learned that the state had the right to “recoup” against the home and be reimbursed for any money that they paid out for Martha’s care after her death. They would do this by putting a lien on the home now and recouping money spent on Martha’s behalf after the death of Frank & Martha.

As unsettling as the thought of losing all the family money was to Frank and his kids, even more unsettling was the prospect of losing the family home after his death. Frank said “They can have my money! But they’re trying to take my home too – that’s just not right!” There must be a better way.

There is always a better way. The best way to avoid costly mistakes is not to be caught off guard. We want to empower you to avoid costly mistakes by giving you a FREE eBook.

There’s Always a Better Way!

Fortunately, there is a better way! Frank & his adult kids came in to see us just as Martha was entering the nursing home. We were able to craft a solution to help Frank keep the family home just where it belongs – with his family! AND while we were at it, we helped him keep a chunk of his money as well, thus salvaging much of his financial legacy. He didn’t have to spend everything down after all, thanks to sustainable financial planning!

Sustainable financial planning is tough, especially when you can’t see the future! Of course, none of us can see the future, so when helping a declining Senior plan for future health care needs, sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out what will happen should any one of a number of scenarios occur. When speaking of financial planning, sustainable planning is difficult. There are any number of scenarios within scenarios that may arise, threatening their financial legacy. Planning wisdom says that it is always best practice to create a Plan B (maybe C & D, too) while planning.

Financial Legacy vs. Care Cost Scenarios

Now for the nitty gritty. In this section, we are going to crunch some numbers. Hypothetically speaking, let’s assume that a couple (we’ll call them Steve and Clarabelle) has $3,000 per month joint income.  Let’s assume $200,000 in savings. We compare their current situation with two different potential life scenarios that could happen if their health declines to the point where they need substantial assistance:

Sustainable Financial Planning Chart: Financial Legacy vs. Care Cost Scenarios

Monthly IncomeMonthly Cost of LivingCurrent Cost of CareAssets Used per monthSustainability Period
$3,000$2,500$3,600$3,100 / mo5.37 years
$3,000$2,500$10,000$9,500 / mo1.75 years

One disclaimer.  Don’t get hung up on the numbers.  The numbers could change a lot. The purpose of this exercise is just to show a few concepts and to get you to thinking what could happen.

Scenario #1 – Best Case Scenario – No Further Decline; No Additional Care Needed

Monthly IncomeMonthly Cost of LivingCurrent Cost of CareAssets Used per monthSustainability Period

This is Steve & Clarabelle’s current reality. They have $3,000 per month coming in from Social Security and from their respective pensions. Their monthly cost of living is $2,500. For the moment, they have no need for outside care. Therefore, their cost of care is $0 and they have used none of their assets for their care. 

Now, as long as our lovely couple can stay at home and remain in fairly good health, they can survive indefinitely, living just off their income. As a matter of fact, at this level, they are contributing money to their asset base every month. Financial legacy currently secure!

Scenario #2 – Mid-Case Scenario – Some Decline; Some Assistance Needed (1 Spouse)

Monthly IncomeMonthly Cost of LivingCurrent Cost of CareAssets Used per monthSustainability Period
$3,000$2,500$3,600$3,100 / mo5.37 years

This will become s Steve & Clarabelle’s reality should either one of them need some assistance.  They still have $3,000 per month coming in from Social Security and from Steve & Clarabelle’s pension.  Their monthly cost of living for basic expenses at home is still $2,500. 

However, this is where the scenario deviates from the scenario pictured in Row #1. In this scenario, either Steve OR Clarabelle’s health declined to the point where they needed some care. Let’s assume that it’s Steve. The $3,600 monthly expense estimate could represent either one month in an Assisted Living Facility OR about 6 hours per day of non-medical in home care (assuming $20/hr X 6 hours per day X 30 day month). Of course these are estimated costs. Either of these expenses may be more or less and the hours needed from in home care may vary a lot, depending on need.

Since the cost of care ($3,600/mo) plus monthly living expenses exceeds their monthly income, they are now dipping into their savings at the rate of $3,100 per month.  At this rate, if spending remains constant (which it won’t), their savings will last 5.37 years. The reality is that if both continue to stay at home, they will need even more assistance from non-medical home care. If Assisted Living is an option, the cost may be about the same. The cost of care may rise (at some facilities) as Steve needs more care. As you can see, their financial legacy will dry up very quickly.

Scenario #3 – Worst Case Scenario – Severe Cognitive/Physical Decline; Full-Time Care (2 Spouses)

Monthly IncomeMonthly Cost of LivingCurrent Cost of CareAssets Used per monthSustainability Period
$3,000$2,500$10,000$9,500 / mo1.75 years

In this reality, let’s say Steve needed Nursing Home care (est. $6,400 per month) and Clarabelle now needs 6 hours per day of non-medical home care (est. 3,600 per month).  OR perhaps Steve goes to a Nursing Home and Clarabelle moves to an Assisted Living Facility. OR they both receive substantial non-medical assistance at home (about 8 hours per day each). 

Since the cost of care ($10,000) plus monthly living expenses exceeds their monthly income, they are now dipping into their savings to the tune of $9,500 per month.  At this rate, if spending remains constant (which it won’t) their savings will last 1.75 years. Financial legacy, at this rate, is in very grave danger!

If either or both go to a Skilled Care Nursing Home, the family would be well advised to seek the assistance of an Elder Law Attorney to determine whether any assets could be preserved.  This is especially important where there is a “well” spouse at home.

Again, don’t get hung up on the numbers – that’s not the point.  As you can see, things can change a lot, very quickly when health starts to decline.  The point is to start doing some sustainable financial planning!

What to Do: 

  1. Meet with your financial advisor for a review.  Check to see whether your assets are invested appropriately and whether you can get access to them if needed. Determine whether you have an option to safely generate more monthly income from invested assets. Remember that sustainability is the key.
  2. Meet with your Elder Law Attorney for a review, OR if you don’t have your planning in place, ask what is needed and get it in place while you still have capacity to do so. Ask about asset preservation options.  If your parent is going to a Nursing Home now or in the near future, it’s critical to start the planning process as soon as possible.
  3. Gather your income and asset numbers and do a Mom Centered Family Meeting. Discuss your preferences and determine what options are available should you need more assistance. One key to productive sustainability planning is to create multiple plans.

If you have gone through this process (or something like this) what did you discover?  If so, please drop us a comment below and let us know what you decided to do so that you can receive the care you need in the future.

Costly Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them

By taking the right legal actions, you can protect your family’s key assets and experience peace of mind knowing they’re 100% off-limits – especially regarding the home you grew up in.

As we’ve mentioned, many people squander their hard-earned financial legacy by blindly spending-down. Yes, the $2000 asset limit exists. However, there are proactive steps that can be taken to salvage financial legacy.

Even if your Loved One is already paying the cost of Nursing Home care right now out-of-pocket as a patient, it may not be too late. Please download our FREE eBook today. It will help you to Avoid Costly Mistakes, qualify for medicaid & protect your family’s assets!

Arkansas Newsletter

If you, or someone you know, are from Arkansas and would benefit from more information like this, be sure to sign up for our free Arkansas Newsletter by going to

ECAA YouTube Channel

Speaking of trends, subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We have a few hundred videos there for your watching enjoyment. Videos are categorized by playlist. You should easily be able to find several videos that discuss exactly what you are looking for. The best part about this is not only is this some really good content, but it is free! There’s even a video specifically addressing Revocable Living Trusts!

Just click here to go to the Elder Care Attorneys of Arkansas (ECAA) You Tube Channel. Please remember to subscribe! When you click the notification bell, so you will be notified of our latest video launches. If you have video ideas, please type them in the comment box. Thanks for watching!


By talking about financial legacy and sustainable financial planning, we have covered some legal topics in this edition and as always, I want to emphasize that (1) the law is different in every state, so if you live in a state other than Arkansas, just know that the law may be totally different in your state; (2) your situation is unique, so one size doesn’t fit all – meaning what we discuss herein may not be right for you; (3) we have purposely over-simplified many of the topics above (otherwise this would be many pages long and unreadable because of all of the legalize).

It is imperative that you meet with your attorney (hopefully us!) and get a plan that will work for you. Don’t try to plan based on what you read in this (or any) article AND don’t try to go it alone. Please consider this, get your questions answered and take action.

About the author 

Doug Jones

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