Long-term care planning is planning and preparing for when a person may require assistance due to either a physical or cognitive impairment. These needs often revolve around activities of daily living, such as: needing help with bathing, dressing, eating, transferring (mobility), and/or using the toilet.
At a deeper level, a person may need help with money management, housework, grocery shopping, cooking, taking care of pets, and taking medication consistently.
In most cases, long-term care is used when the person isn’t expected to get better. They will require a certain level or assistance for the rest of their life. The level of care may also increase over time.
It can be challenging to approach the topic for ourselves or our loved ones, as it raises mortality questions. However, it can be incredibly beneficial for you and your family to have a productive discussion about the future.
How Do You Plan for Long-Term Care?
Your best chance for success is to work with qualified professionals to develop a comprehensive plan. An experienced estate planning and elder law attorney is key. They can guide the discussion and process as well as bring in other qualified professionals as needed, i.e., insurance professionals, financial advisors, etc.
One essential aspect of every long-term plan is deciding who will provide the care. Will it be a family member? If so, can they take time away from their job or leave their job and sustain themselves financially by caring for a family member? Will they be able to handle the emotional demands?
It is probably no surprise that long-term care is becoming increasingly expensive. One forgotten aspect is looking at the needs for the years leading up to the nursing home years. The need for full-time care may not be required immediately, but there may be some tasks leading up to a nursing home that will need to be covered. Who is going to take care of those tasks? How will those costs be covered?
As you can see, having a comprehensive plan in place for you and your loved ones, is necessary and essential for peace of mind and to preserve your family’s legacy.
Does Medicare Cover Costs for Long-Term Care?
There are some costs that Medicare will cover; however, there are several costs that Medicare doesn’t typically cover. These are “custodial care” costs, such as those discussed above, i.e., someone to come in and help with bathing, taking medicines, grocery shopping, and the like.
Most assisted living facilities and nursing homes aren’t covered completely by Medicare. For those that are, Medicare only covers skilled nursing care for 100 days. Therefore you should have other options in place.
The costs of all of the above can add up quickly, and it is imperative to have a plan in place to cover those costs. A “layered” method, or a plan with several options that work together is the best way to gain peace of mind for you and your family.
What About Medicaid?
Medicaid is another resource that families will look to help with the costs of long-term care. The problem with relying on this is, Medicaid typically has (1) income limits and (2) net worth limits before you are eligible for benefits. Further, if Medicaid benefits are provided, then your assets risk being taken away by the government to recoup the expenses for long-term care.
The laws regarding Medicaid eligibility are very specific and they change. The rules that apply now may be very different when you or a loved one apply’s for benefits. It is best to have a plan that considers more than one route to cover long-term care costs for your family.
Do I Need Long-Term Care Insurance?
Each situation is different, so the answer to this question is challenging. Having long-term care insurance can help you to protect your assets. This idea alone makes choosing to have long-term care insurance appealing to many. The downside is that these policies are difficult to obtain, are costly, and may not provide a substantial enough benefit to warrant the cost.
You have worked your entire life for the assets you have, and rather than have them dissipate due to long-term care costs, you can leave your legacy to your family or a charitable cause of your choice, if you have planned and sought out a long-term care plan that works for you.
If you choose to obtain a long-term health insurance policy, be aware that it can be harder to qualify for and the cost will increase rapidly, as you increase in age and decline in health.
How Can an Estate Planning Lawyer Help My Family and Me?
If you have been careful to have a thorough estate plan throughout your life, you may be ahead of the game. In that situation you may only need a few tips or guidance to fill in the gaps to ensure you have a comprehensive estate plan. Great! We are glad to help you!
If you are like the rest of the population who may be reading this and still in the research phase…we look forward to helping you, too. We can help you think through several aspects you may not have yet thought of to include in a comprehensive plan that protects your family, your wishes, and your legacy.
With over 33 years of experience in this area, we have a polished skillset and a compassionate ear for your wishes and how you would like to look out for your future and your family’s future. From trusts to wills, and long-term care needs to advanced planning, we can help you with all aspects of an effective long-term plan. Our experienced team will learn about your specific needs and goals to discover what may work best for you and your family based upon your unique situation. Then we will walk you through your options and implement the best long-term care plan for your specific situation.
Contact our office today at (770) 889-3911 to get your specific questions answered and begin formulating a plan that best fits you and your family. We look forward to working with you.