Financing long-term care in your estate plan

On behalf of J. Kevin Tharpe at J. Kevin Tharpe, P.C.

When you think about the process of estate planning, you may think that it is all about wills and trusts. Although this is a big part of it, there are other important aspects to it. One such aspect is an area that has become increasingly important in the last few decades-planning how to pay for long-term care.

As medicine continues to improve, people are living longer than they have at any time in the past. With advancements, injuries and diseases that would have certainly proved fatal even 30 years ago are survivable today. Sadly, even though many people survive these once-fatal conditions, medicine still has not advanced to the point where making a full recovery is guaranteed or even the norm. Because of this fact, many people will find they need long-term care at some point in their lives. Specifically, 70 percent will need such care, according to a study conducted by Georgetown University Public Policy Institute.

Decades ago, long-term care consisted primarily of nursing home stays. Although this type of care still exists today and is sometimes needed, other options provide less intensive care for those who need a little extra help living their lives. According to industry statistics, only five percent of people actually require the institutional care found in nursing homes.

To serve those that just need extra assistance with routine daily tasks, several long-term care options have sprung up in recent decades. One popular option for those with terminal illnesses or those that cannot perform routine daily tasks is in-home care. This type of care involves a caregiver coming into the home to help with cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing and other day-to-day tasks. This type of service may be combined with hospice care, if the person is terminally ill.

For persons that need more assistance than in-home care provides (but who want to stay out of nursing homes), assisted living is a popular option. In this type of care, persons live on-site in a care facility that resembles apartments, rather than the clinical environment of a nursing home. Residents receive daily assistance with their tasks as well as social and entertainment options on the premises.

An attorney can help you plan

Although alternatives to nursing homes sound very attractive, they are more expensive. In the majority of instances, Medicare will only pay for 100 days of such care. As a result, it is necessary to plan how you will pay for this type of care ahead of time. Fortunately, estate planning, such as long-term care insurance or Medicaid planning can help ensure that funds are available.

To learn more about the options available to you and to ensure that your long-term care goals are on track, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.