America’s elderly and disabled members face a looming crisis. A gathering storm approaches. And it centers on the ever-increasing costs of providing care to those who are unable to care for themselves. Millions of our citizens are forced to go broke, spending down their hard-earned life’s savings and selling their homes, to pay for nursing home or other Long-Term Care (LTC) expenses, which typically approach or exceed $8,000 per month.
DEMOGRAPHIC CHALLENGES OF LTC
An estimated 12 million Americans are currently in need of LTC – defined as institutional or home-based assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Fewer family caregivers, increasingly limited personal financial resources, and growing strains on federal, state, and family budgets will complicate efforts to organize and finance LTC services. Fully 70 percent of people who reach the age of 65 will require some form of LTC at some point in their lives, with women aged 65 and over needing services for an average of 2.5 years compared with about 1.5 years for men. The number of
Americans needing LTC at any one time is expected to double from 12 million today to 27 million by the year 2050. Trying to understand how Medicaid laws and regulations can aid when all your other assets have been exhausted is an overwhelmingly complex proposition. Better yet is having a plan in place to preserve those assets from the dreaded “spend down” requirements of Medicaid.
OTHER ESTATE PLANNING ISSUES TO CONSIDER
Only 4 in 10 Americans have an estate plan in place, and many of those have the wrong estate plan. Far too often, mistakes are made that can be easily avoided with the careful guidance of an estate planning professional, such as:
- Dying Intestate. Dying without a Will or other estate plan means that the State or the IRS will simply make one for you, resulting in a probate process that is needlessly time consuming, expensive, public, and frustrating.
- Having an “I Love You” Will. In many situations, a Will simply passes the complex issues and problems associated with transferring and protecting wealth on to the spouse or future generations; it creates more problems than it serves.
- Giving Property Outright to Children. Countless problems arise when, for example, a child is too immature to handle money responsibly, suffers a severe financial setback, marries a fortune-hunter, or is addicted to drugs or alcohol. You may need to protect your heirs from their own poor decisions.
- Not Having a Trust. A trust is the single most effective estate planning tool available. There are many types of trusts and among the more common are revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, testamentary trusts and standalone retirement trusts. In addition to protecting your privacy, a trust will help you leave what you want, to whom you want, in the way you want – a completely customized plan – at the lowest possible cost.
- Not Funding Your Trust. Establishing trust means re-titling your assets to the trust; otherwise it does no good. Avoid procrastination in this crucial task.
- Not Having Your Documents Reviewed and Updated. Once the estate plan is put in place it is important to have it reviewed at least every two to three years to keep up with changes in your life or the law.
- Failing to plan for life’s other crises for comprehensive protection. Also important are: Advanced Health Care Directive; HIPAA authorization to grant access to medical information and records; comprehensive Power of Attorney to determine who will make financial decisions for you; and other vital estate planning instruments to complete your estate plan.
INDIVIDUALIZED SOLUTIONS ARE AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW
With the careful guidance of a qualified Medicaid and estate planning professional, one can implement unique Medicaid and estate planning strategies to provide lifetime protection and peace of mind. There are real and immediate solutions to take charge of your family’s financial security and determine your own future.