FINANCING LONG-TERM CARE
There are many ways that long-term care can be paid for, depending on the individual’s medical and financial circumstances and what planning was put into place prior to the need for care. To name several:
- Paying privately from your savings
- Traditional long-term care insurance
- Hybrid long-term care insurance built upon a whole or universal life framework
- Hybrid long-term care insurance built upon an annuity framework and funded with qualified retirement funds
- Accelerated life insurance benefits
- Selling life insurance death benefit at a discount to make cash available to pay for care
- Reverse mortgage
- Veteran’s benefits
- Medicaid benefits
It’s unlikely that all the options on this list would be good for everyone. For example, a long-term care insurance policy may be the option of choice philosophically, but not possible due to pre-existing conditions or cost. For another example, Medicaid can be an excellent and very generous form of comprehensive long-term care financing. However, the eligibility requirements may exclude some, and often involves complicated planning.
If your instinct is to stick your head in the sand and hope you never need long-term care, statistics show that you will be on the losing end of that plan. Instead, follow these steps to constructive decision making about your future long-term care:
- Discuss the risks with your physician.
- Educate yourself on long-term care.
- Get started on, or update, your existing estate planning. The estate plan should include recommendations on long-term care financing options that are suitable for you.
- Work collaboratively with your legal and financial team to effectuate the option(s) that are most likely to achieve your long-term care financing goals.
- Update your plan periodically to assure that the plan still satisfies your goals. If protecting your assets from long-term care costs is something you are interested in, start planning sooner rather than later. You, and your family, will be glad you did.
David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.