A long-term care plan can be an important part of estate planning

A long-term care plan can be an important part of estate planning

10198799_sMany people in Chicago, Illinois, may view long-term care planning as unnecessary. Unfortunately, these people may be exposing themselves to significant financial risk. The interest group AARP reports 7 out of 10 Americans over age 65 will require long-term care, and 20 percent of people in the same age bracket need care for longer than 5 years.

Individuals who consider long-term care plans during estate planning can avoid financial strain and ensure that providing care does not become a burden for other family members.

How the plans work 

Long-term care insurance policies can cover expenses that other forms of insurance do not. Health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid may provide for nursing home care or rehabilitative care for a limited period of time. However, these policies usually do not cover ongoing care or at-home assistance with everyday activities, such as eating, bathing and toileting. A long-term care policy provides coverage for personal or assisted care for a pre-determined amount of time after certain “triggers,” or qualifying health conditions, are met.

In addition to specifying policy duration, policyholders may choose the daily amount paid and the elimination period. The elimination period is a specified number of days between the date benefits qualifications are met and the date payments actually begin. Plans with longer elimination periods typically offer lower premiums, since the policyholder takes on more financial risk. When choosing a plan, an individual should evaluate local care costs and ability to pay out-of-pocket expenses.

These considerations make it clear that a long-term care plan does not simply consist of purchasing an insurance policy. Individuals must also spend time thinking about their care preferences and the kind of lifestyle they want to maintain as they become more dependent.

When to start planning 

It is never too early to consider long-term care options and costs. Many people make the mistake of thinking they will make plans when the need for long-term care arises. Unfortunately, people who have been diagnosed with illnesses are not eligible for long-term care policies. People who wait to take out insurance when they are older may also face higher premiums, even if they have not developed substantial health problems.

Purchasing a policy as part of a long-term care plan offers undeniable benefits, but doing so may not make sense financially for every individual. This is one reason long-term care plans are an important consideration to discuss with an estate planning attorney. An attorney can help an individual evaluate his or her preferences, assets, obligations and other concerns to determine what kind of long-term care arrangement may be most beneficial.

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