Each year, the month of October is designated as “Long-Term Care Planning Month” in the United States. It provides seniors, their family members, and caregivers the perfect opportunity to sit down and create or review long-term care planning. Even if you are not a senior yourself, there is a good chance that someone close to you is, or is close to retirement age. Why not take advantage of this opportunity to make sure you understand why long-term care planning is important and what you can do to help create your own long-term care (LTC) plan or help a loved one with their plan.
What Is Long-Term Care?
Long-term care refers to a range of services and supports residents may need to meet their personal care needs. Most long-term care is not exclusively medical care, but rather medical care combined with assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as:
- Using the toilet
- Transferring (to or from bed or chair)
- Caring for incontinence
Why Is Long-Term Care Planning Important?
The natural aging process catches up to all of us eventually, if we live long enough. At some point, our bodies will begin to deteriorate, making simple tasks more difficult than they once were. If, on top of the natural again process, you suffer from Alzheimer’s or another age-related condition, you will need around the clock care at some point. Counting on an adult child, or another family member, to provide that care may be unrealistic for a variety of reasons. Even if your loved one wants to be your caregiver, family and/or financial demands may make that impractical. In addition, if you do develop Alzheimer’s, or suffer from other serious medical conditions, you may require the type of care that can only be provided by a LTC facility.
Planning ahead for that possibility that you will need nursing home care is important to ensure that such an important decision as choosing a nursing home facility is not made under pressure. In addition, the cost of LTC can be prohibitive. As of 2017, the average cost of a year in LTC in New Hampshire is over $120,000 and neither Medicare nor your basic health insurance coverage will cover LTC expenses. Medicaid will help cover your LTC expenses; however, you will first need to qualify for coverage. If you did not plan ahead for the likelihood that you will need to qualify for Medicaid, you could end up losing your retirement nest egg before becoming eligible for Medicaid.
What Should Be Included in My Long-Term Care Plan?
Your long-term care planning should start by having a very honest and frank discussion with your loved ones. While it may sound ideal to plan on a loved one taking on your care as you age, you should assume that at some point you will need to move to a LTC facility at some point. With that in mind, you need to plan accordingly. Along with researching potential nursing homes now so you will know where you want to live when the time comes, you also need to plan for the high cost of that care and unless you already have a long-term care insurance policy or can afford to cover the cost out of pocket, it means planning for Medicaid eligibility. To ensure that you will be eligible for Medicaid if you need it, you will need to include Medicaid planning in your overall estate plan as early on as possible. Not only does Medicaid impose income and asset guidelines, but there is also a five-year look-back period that effectively prohibits the transfer of assets during the five-year period prior to your application for benefits. To protect the assets you have now you may need to create a Medicaid trust. Because every situation is unique, the best way to ensure that you are prepared for the need for LTC is to consult with a long-term care planning attorney now.
Contact a Long-Term Care Planning Attorney
For more information, please download out FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about long-term care planning, contact the experienced long-term care planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.