Gerri Willis Commentary:
Top Tips by Gerri Willis Column archive
Mother's Day
5 Tips: Make the holiday special by giving Mom the gift of financial security.
By Gerri Willis, contributing columnist

NEW YORK ( - Mother's Day is coming instead of the flowers and the candy, think about giving her the gift she'll always remember: financial security. Today's Five Tips will tell you how.

1. Create a living will

A living will communicates what kind of medical care you want in case you're not able to communicate it yourself. And experts say anyone over 18 should have one. So, decide in advance who will be the person to fight for your wishes.

You can contact an attorney to write a living will or you can put one together yourself with relatively little cost. Download a free copy of a prospective will at or call 800-989-WILL to order a hard copy version for free.

2. Check the nest egg

You'll also want to make sure that Mom's nest egg is growing. Do a quick calculation to see if she's on track using T. Rowe Price's retirement calculator or a calculator from AARP. That's at the T. Rowe Price Web site or It just may be time to do some rebalancing.

3. Evaluate long term care

Since Medicare won't cover the expenses of long-term care, you may want to think about investing in long term care insurance. This kind of insurance covers assisted living and hospice stays, including care given at home.

But make sure you read the policies carefully. Benefits may only cover a portion of the expenses and plus, there's no telling whether the insurer will be around in another 20 or 30 years. For more information on long-term care coverage call your area's Agency on Aging at 1-800-677-1116.

4. Protect her biggest investment

Besides you, of course. Your parents have likely lived in the same house for quite a while, building up home equity. And as home values rise, the insurance coverage may not be enough.

Plus, don't forget all those valuable trinkets Mom may have stored over the year. Make sure she has enough insurance to cover expensive personal property. And finally, be the household shutterbug. Take photos of your valuables in case down the road there needs to be an insurance inventory.

5. Build the support system

Does Mom have financial questions that you can't answer? Enlist the help of an hourly financial planner to help her. You can contact the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors at or log onto the for a network of financials planners around the country that offer services by the hour.


Gerri Willis is a personal finance editor for CNN Business News and the host for Open House. Send your questions, your comments and your own ideas to us at 5tips@cnn.comTop of page

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