Dad Should Enjoy His Remaining Time

Angela has parents in their 50s. Her father has inoperable liver cancer. Angela wants them to travel and enjoy the time they have left together. Her dad doesn't want to leave her mom with a burden.

QUESTION: Angela in Illinois has parents in their 50s, and they just found out her father has inoperable liver cancer. They have a $40,000 mortgage with a $740/month payment. They were paying an extra $200 on it each month until this diagnosis. Angela wants them to travel and enjoy the time they have left together. Her dad doesn’t want to leave her mom with a burden. Dave tells Angela what he would do.

ANSWER: I’ve obviously never been in these situations personally. I don’t know how I would react. Sitting on the outside looking in—and I’m not much younger than your dad, I’m 51—here’s what I think. I think your dad is a good man who is responsible for his wife and his family. With this prognosis, that responsibility lever went into overdrive. If I were his friend, if I were to sit down with him for a cup of coffee, I would look at him and say, “You’re a good man. Stop it. Stop it. You took care of your wife because you have $300,000 in savings. You have equity in the home. You bought life insurance. You have taken care of your wife. Now sit in that grace and go travel and don’t pay a dime extra on this house. Just enjoy these days with your wife and your family. She can pay off that house and still have $200,000 left. She’ll have some medical bills to take care of off the co-pays, and she has the money to do that. She’s going to be fine.”

I wish she had $2 million, but she’s going to end up with $500,000, give or take, and a paid-for house. I think she can probably work it out. There aren’t any investments that need to take place except after he passes. After he passes, she may want to do some, but she doesn’t need to make that decision today. It’s okay to learn about it and get his input on it if that makes him feel like he’s taking good care of his wife. If they want to meet with somebody and set that up, that’s fine. But I think the deal is this: He’s just a good guy. Somebody just needs to tell him he’s a good guy and just relax.