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Understanding Long-Term Care Finances and Planning

MP900407553Most of us will need some kind of long-term care during our lives. Accepting this as a possibility and planning for the expense, is a wise way to protect your retirement.

It may be impossible to know when you’ll need long-term care, but chances are good that you will. Think Advisor’s recent article, “Making Sense of Long-Term Care Planning” says that statistics show that 70% of older Americans will need long-term care in their later years.

However, to some degree, an individual’s circumstances can predispose them to needing assistance. Some factors include:

  • Lifestyle choices that you’re making now that could factor into needing care;
  • Participation in risky hobbies or health-maintenance choices that could contribute to the onset of debilitating illness;
  • Ways in which you might reduce risk of injury or illness;
  • Home modifications you can make to better accommodate changes in mobility; and
  • Hereditary illnesses and conditions that increase your risk.

Not everyone qualifies for long-term care insurance, and those with certain health conditions could be denied long-term care insurance. Lifestyle choices that affect health conditions, can weigh into their projected need and planning.

To make wise financial decisions for meeting long-term care needs, begin with a realistic understanding of the cost of long-term care. Roughly 25% of all seniors will need to pay over $50,000 for long-term care. If someone choose to pay for in-home care, the national median annual cost of an in-home aide in 2017 was $48,000. Unless you’re very wealthy, odds are you’ll need a safety net in place to cover long-term care costs. When deciding how to begin, review these factors:

  • How close are you to retirement?
  • What savings and insurance programs do you have to help pay for long-term care?
  • Do you have a plan to pay for the costs of long-term care?

It’s a common misconception that Medicare or Medicaid will pay for long-term care. However, Medicaid eligibility is linked with your assets, and the limit varies state to state, but is roughly $2,000. There are several other ways to cover the cost of care:

Long-term care insurance. While you hear a lot about rising premiums on long-term care policies, it’s still a good move for many individuals, who fall into the gap between qualifying for Medicaid and being wealthy enough to afford long-term care outright.

Supplemental insurance. Some people may benefit from Medicare Supplement insurance or Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Medicare Part A and Part B. Medicare Supplement insurance can help to pay for deductibles, co-payments, and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Prepay funeral costs. Funeral costs are big, and even with a good financial plan in place, paying for a funeral before the estate is settled, can create a financial hardship for loved ones. You can avoid that with a prepaid funeral plan.

Create an Estate Plan.  There are certain types of trusts that can help you preserve your assets in the event of need for long-term care.  

This can be accomplished in a few different ways:

  • A POD (Payable on Death) or joint savings or checking account, so that family members can access funds that are set aside for funeral expenses.
  • A pre-payment plan through a funeral home, usually through a special type of insurance plan.
  • Buying a final expense insurance policy, specifically to pay for funeral costs.

Are there millions of other things you’d rather think about? Yes, but this is something that prior planning can make far easier for you and your loved ones.  Please contact us today to discuss what you can do to prepare for a long-term care event.  There may be steps that you can take today that will help you perpetuate your wealth and preserve your assets.  

Reference: Think Advisor (September 4, 2018) “Making Sense of Long-Term Care Planning”

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