Beyond estate planning: Long-term care insurance

When I work with my clients to complete their estate plans, including their living trust, their powers of attorney, their wills, and other documents, I talk to them about other areas of their life where they should “get their affairs in order.”  One of these areas are long-term care insurance.  While this is not a service that I provide personally, I consider it part of my job to at least alert my clients to the other areas of their life that may need attention in preparation for retirement and beyond.  Many individuals just don’t have the correct information to be able to make informed decisions, so I try to bridge these gaps so my clients can make the best decisions for them.

Long-term care insurance is insurance that helps to pay for your care as you get older.  Very few of us are going to go from healthy and active one day to dead the next.  Most of us will decline more slowly as age starts to take its toll on our bodies.  Perhaps driving or climbing stairs will become difficult, and then perhaps we’ll need to use a cane or walker.  Medicare will not help you unless and until you are housebound and confined to your bed (generally).  During that phase of your life where you are slowing down, if you don’t have long-term care insurance, you have two options:  you can pay for it ($20,000/month or more) or depend on your family and friends to help take care of you.  Not many older individuals have an extra $20,000/month to spare, so paying for it is nearly impossible.  Depending on family can be an option for some, but I think many who have the ability to think about it ahead of time do not want to place this burden on their family.  Even those who cringe at the thought of having a stranger come into their home can understand the need for their caregiver family member to have a break from the care giving.  Long-term care insurance helps to pay for in-home care (or assisted living), can help to relieve family care givers, and help to save your finances when you can’t work anymore.  If you get it at a young age, it’s quite reasonable to pay for, and both you and your family will be grateful you had it.

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