In estate planning, we think about and consider any number of life-impacting issues. Among other things, at SJF Law Group, we help our clients think about and plan for such things as estate taxes, how best to avoid probate, and how and when to distribute property.
But there is another aspect of estate planning you should think about making part of your estate plan: long-term care.
What is Long-term care and Why Make it Part of Your Estate Plan?
Long-term care refers to a broad spectrum of health care services. These can include (but are not limited to) such things as assistance with activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, etc.), help managing (or taking) medication, and even housework. Long-term care can be provided in one’s home or in an institution and can come from people or from special equipment. Facilities include (but are not limited to):
· adult daycare
· group homes
· private homes
· private nursing home
· assisted living facilities, and
· in-state institutions
The setting, type of services, and level of services provided varies depending on what an individual can afford and what he or she needs help with.
While no one is immune from disease, disability or injury, the risk of needing some type of long-term care increases as we age. Government projections estimate that the number of individuals using assisted living, or nursing facilities, or in-home long-term care services will double by the year 2050—increasing from 8 million to 19 million people.
All of which is to say that, while thinking about becoming incapacitated or elderly and frail may not be pleasant, it is absolutely necessary that you think about and plan for your long-term health care. The best way to do this is to make long-term care part of your estate plan.
What Factors Should You Consider?
When making a long-term care plan, there are a lot of things you will want to discuss with your estate and probate lawyer.
Let’s start with finances.
Long-term care is not cheap. In fact, one year of care in a nursing home can cost upwards of $70,000.
So it’s critical that you figure out what your options are for paying for long-term care if you need it.
Will Medicare pay for long-term care?
The short answer is no.
The federal Medicare program does not cover long-term care services.
Instead, Medicare pays for short-term health care like nursing or wound care, or physical therapy.
What about Medicaid?
While Medicaid is the nation’s single largest source of financing for long-term care, it is not limited to only the elderly. Children, those with severe physical or mental disabilities or illnesses or injuries like traumatic brain injuries and the like, all depend on Medicaid.
Many people use their own private assets to pay for long-term care—for a time. As noted, long-term care can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you need care for extended periods of time.
Medicaid provides long-term care payments for the poor and low-income individuals. It can also provide payments for those who became poor due to paying for long-term care. Only those with limited means can rely on Medicaid for long-term care costs. Bear in mind that Medicaid is not the same as private insurance and it does not protect one’s income or assets from being used to pay for catastrophic long-term care costs.
What about your private health care plan?
Unfortunately, not all health care plans pay for long-term care. Most private health insurance plans only cover a limited amount of time in a long-term care facility.
What about long-term care insurance? One possible solution to discuss with your lawyer when making a long-term plan as part of your estate plan is the possibility of long-term care insurance.
Long-term care policies vary widely with regard to price, policy type, and amount of coverage.
There are no easy answers here. But hopefully you can see that making long-term care a part of your estate plan is a critical step you should take.
Helping People Protect Their Families and Find Peace of Mind.
At SJF Law Group, we work hard to ensure that your wishes will be followed, and your loved ones taken care of when you are gone. When you work with the estate planning attorneys at SJF Law Group, you get more than just an estate plan: you get peace of mind. We expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well. Contact us here or email us at: [email protected].