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Help Mom and Dad retire like millionaires
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Estate management
Most people want to avoid probate at all costs while still retaining control over how their assets are managed in the here and now. Various types of partnerships and trusts are the best way for parents to transfer assets to children while retaining some control of them.

Estate management:

Medical coverage
Gather a group of senior citizens and you'll quickly find that the main topic of conversation is health. To hear them tell it, if old age doesn't kill you, the cost of medical care will.

Want to give the folks bragging rights around the canasta table? Help them get a good long-term health-care policy.

The younger and healthier your parents are, the better deal they'll get on coverage, which should be ample incentive to do this first. The key is research. There are a lot of plans out there, read every letter of their fine print.

If affordable long-term coverage is out of reach, Tucker says there are still steps you can take to give them peace of mind.

"Once they reach Medicare age (65), at least their catastrophic needs are going to be met. But because of the percentage participation of Medicare, they are going to be impacted by their medical expenses," he says. "I think they should look into a Medicare supplement. Stay away from HMOs and look for PPOs, because HMOs are so rigid that they take away the person's dignity."

Planning is everything
Both Pollan and Tucker agree, no matter what your age or the age of your parents, planning can be worth a million should-haves for all concerned.

"If they haven't done any estate planning, they should do it now," says Pollan. "The most important thing the kid can do is to say, 'You do not owe us a penny. We want you to stop going to the 'early bird.' We want you to live the most wonderful life you can.'"

Tucker agrees.

"It's never too late to exercise a little sound investment and planning judgment. If they haven't had the advice of a professional planner before they retired, there is little doubt that they're going to have some things they haven't done that can maximize their income and minimize their tax consequences."

So here's to you, mom and dad! Thanks for everything, now live like millionaires because you've earned it.'s corrections policy -- Updated: Sept. 22, 2006

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