It’s far easier to delay thinking about our own aging and end of life decisions when parents are healthy and well. However, once you’ve experienced the illness, incapacity and/or death of a parent, reality sets in. That’s when you realize that you need to start planning, including planning for long-term care.
WTOP’s recent article, “Preparing for old age: Long-term care, insurance and estate planning,” says the first step is to mirror the kind of conversations you held with your parents and have the same conversation with yourself. Take a look at your vision for how you want to age and how you want to address your end-of-life issues before you make any moves with your estate plan or insurance coverage. If you have a partner, first work independently on your own wishes, then have a conversation together.
Working with aging parents can also make you think about planning for long-term care insurance. Start the process when you’re in your 50s. The older you get, the greater chance you have of running out of time to save or of becoming uninsurable. Recent statistics published by AARP show that 52% of those individuals who turn 65 today will develop some form of severe disability requiring long-term care support. The average lifetime cost of long-term care in retirement tops $250,000.
The next step is to review your current estate plan in light of your goals. Many individuals or couples who have a plan in place will forget about it, letting their estate planning become out-of-date. If you don’t have an estate plan yet, putting one together with an experienced estate planning attorney should be a top priority. An experienced elder law and estate planning attorney will be adept at working with clients to understand their wishes and to create a plan that reflects those intentions.
Before executing a plan, you’ll need to calculate your total level of wealth, create a list of intended heirs and charitable organization names, as well as any divorce decrees, if applicable. If you have minor children, you’ll need to designate guardians to act in your absence. It is also necessary to decide whether those same people will manage your children’s inheritance or whether you want someone else to assume that responsibility.
Planning for the later stages of life includes considering many aspects of your estate plan. If something unexpected occurred and you became incapacitated, an estate plan spells out your wishes, including who is to make health care decisions for you. How would your family pay for long-term care, and how would it impact your spouse? All of these considerations are part of the estate planning process.
In fact, at Family Estate Planning Law Group, we strongly encourage our clients to discuss this and other planning with loved ones before a crisis. Our clients hold a Family Care Meeting in our office, gathering all those with roles in the estate plan so they have the opportunity to hear directly from the client about the planning done, the reasoning behind it and get an understanding of their responsibilities. It’s a chance to let your loved ones know your preferences and wishes, and we’ve found it significantly increases the likelihood that estate plans work at the time of a death or disability: your loved ones will understand what you wanted and know how to accomplish it.
For more information on this and other elder law and estate planning topics, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: WTOP (May 3, 2017) “Preparing for old age: Long-term care, insurance and estate planning”