Q: My in-laws are in their mid-80s and doing well living independently. They are concerned they might need to go into a nursing home at some point in the future. They are also concerned about being able to leave an inheritance to their 4 children.

They have their primary residence (valued at approximately $150,000) and approximately $300,000 in stocks and CDs. Their current income will probably cover the cost of one of them being in a nursing home but not for both.

Do you know of legal and ethical means of transferring some of their assets to their children?

A: There is now a 5-year look-back provision in which the government can unwind transactions if it proves that your parents-in-law were trying to avoid using their own assets to pay for a nursing home.

However, they can give up to $12,000 each to each of their children, or $24,000 per child per year. On the other hand, if they need that cash on which to live, then they’ll be at the mercy of their children — who may or may not want to help (you won’t know until they’re asked).

I think your parents-in-law should seek the advice of a knowledgeable estate or elder law attorney who can walk them through various estate options.