Denial is how many Americans deal with planning for long-term care, according to an article in HomeCare, “5 Ways to Sort Through Long-term Care Planning.” Unfortunately, the rising costs of care makes this a serious problem for seniors who fail to plan properly.
Roughly 70% of Americans 65 and older will require some type of long-term care. But few do enough or anything at all to plan for this. This is critical, with assisted living costs increasing faster than the pace of inflation. For those who are looking to move into a private-pay assisted living community, the median cost of rent and care in the U.S. is about $50,000 a year.
Finding the money to support senior care needs is difficult, but not impossible. Start with the following:
- Inventory and Find Ways to Maximize Assets. Consider the value of your assets, like your home and your savings, then calculate your anticipated senior care costs. This includes things like the cost of living with inflation, medical expenses associated with illnesses you may have and the costs of different types of care—like memory care, homecare, nursing care, assisted living and long-term care communities and other family circumstances.
- Look at Other Factors Concerning Senior Care. Smart strategies include financial planning, but also legal planning—like a living trust, will, powers of attorney and health care proxy to protect yourself and your family, and emotional planning, which includes leaving a legacy for your family or managing family dynamics.
- Conduct Research. There’s plenty of misinformation about senior care, but education can help eliminate misconceptions. The best source is a knowledgeable estate planning and elder law attorney. Some people think that lawyers just draft documents. However, the documents are really just one part of the legal service. The most important part of any estate plan is alignment of assets (or "funding" the trust). Without alignment of assets, both initially and ongoing, the estate plan is not likely to accomplish the intended goal of taking care of your family. There’s also the time, effort, and advice that goes into the document, working to address an individual’s unique circumstances.
- Work with Professionals Who Can Provide Support. When it comes to senior care, you’ll need advice from several professionals, such as your family doctor, your financial advisor, an insurance agent or broker and your attorney. You may also work with a geriatric social worker.
- Talk with Family Members. Having what may be difficult conversations in advance, will ensure that your family members understand what your wishes are and how you want be cared for, if an illness should strike that leaves you unable to communicate. This is not a topic that can be ignored. That’s one of the reasons why we at Family Estate Planning Law Group strongly encourage our clients to hold a Family Care Meeting. This meeting gives those who will have to execute your estate plan the chance to hear about the plan directly from you and your advisors. Many of our clients tell us this meeting gives them peace of mind: their heirs now know the client’s wishes and their responsibilities.
An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to guide you through the process of planning for long term care, identifying resources and making recommendations, whether for yourself or for your parents. For more information, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: HomeCare (July 2017) “5 Ways to Sort Through Long-term Care Planning”