Long-term care costs are a growing threat to our clients, and actually a growing threat to our overall society. Approximately every minute a new case of Alzheimer’s (a form of dementia) is diagnosed across our country, and the care costs for a typical Alzheimer’s patient are three times (3x!) the cost of other care costs. Most of the drugs available for fighting Alzheimer’s are designed to slow down the aggressive nature of the disease and extend the life of the individual. Indirectly, this may actually increase long-term care costs, but provide a higher quality of life for the patient.
Long-term care is threatening to bankrupt our seniors! All of these things should cause us to increase focus on understanding how we will pay for long-term care.
Every client’s long-term care situation is different. Clients are forced to guess how their family history will affect them, what kind of ailments they might face in future years and what will it cost to manage it all? Will I run out of money? What is my back-up plan? Who will be here to help take care of me? What if that person is too busy? These are just a few of the many questions clients ask during the planning cycle.
For years clients have viewed estate planning as “death planning.” What will happen when I die? We believe the emphasis must shift toward more focus on “what happens when I’m living” while still asking “what happens when I pass away?”
For these reasons, we encourage our clients to focus heavily on a process known as Life Care Planning, or what the industry defines as a process to plan how we will receive proper care while we are living, and how we will pay for this care during our life. Clearly a client’s Life Care Plan should also be consistent with their estate planning. Clients have to understand where they currently reside along the continuum of care, and then make plans for what might be ahead. Here is an example of an aging timeline:
A Life Care Plan will:
• assess where an individual is on the aging timeline
• address key items to consider for proper care in the future, and
• integrate these items with the client’s estate plan.
Here are 10 key issues that should be addressed in a Life Care Plan:
- What type of care should I plan to need for the rest of my life?
- Based on where I live, what services and facilities are available for this care and how are my assets structured to pay for this care?
- What are the weak links in this Life Care Plan and what are my contingencies?
- If married, how do I protect my spouse from the high costs of any disabling disease?
- What legal documents are needed to properly plan for my future?
- Who do I need to include as part of my team to provide for this care in the future?
- What can I do now to proactively plan for my care needs?
- Should I convert life insurance to long-term care insurance? Am I self-insured?
- What other benefits are available that might assist me along the way? Do I qualify?
- How do I keep this plan updated as conditions change?
In the end, many clients may need a Life Care Plan more than their own estate plan. At the Bell Law Firm, we are moving toward a process that combines Life Care Planning with proper estate planning, which will include a way to update these plans as life conditions change — because they often change quickly during the last few decades.
We encourage you to ask us how we can work with you to protect your assets, ensure proper care for your future and give you peace of mind as you leave assets to the next generation. Call us at 913-345-2323 to schedule your “no-cost” consultation today.