Long term care (LTC) is a term that has many facets to its definition. It is comprised of a variety of services that meet medical and non-medical requirements for people who cannot care for themselves for long periods of time. It is a highly individualized care system which can be formally or informally provided. Formal facilities that provide long term care go by various names such as residential continuing care facility, nursing home, and personal care facility. Informal long term care is often provided, in its earlier stages, by a family member who is willing to provide their parent personal care, meals, laundry services, housekeeping, and transportation services to and from appointments.
Aging is the sign of a successful life. After all, when you think about the alternative to aging your perspective about getting older shifts. You should start seeking self-sufficiency for your retirement years well before the age of sixty-five. But, even if you have not done so, don’t shun the planning stages. You need to address planning no matter what your age. Some preparation is better than none at all. It can provide you with some peace of mind and can take pressure off of family members who would have to make their own income adjustments to be able to provide money to support your cost of living. No one wants to become a burden to their children or otherwise extended family. It feels good to be able to provide for oneself (and one’s spouse) no matter how lavishly or modestly. It is a relief to know that you have solid plans as well as contingency plans for the future. Although it can be hard work and tough to realize how much it will take to cover your future living expenses, putting off the planning stage does not lead to easier or better outcomes.
The importance of making end of life preparations cannot be stressed enough. Many put off making these plans thinking there is always time. The sad reality is that none of us are guaranteed time. Others may be bothered by the thought of death itself and allow this to paralyze them when it comes to making plans and getting their affairs in order for the end of life. However, most of these same people have wishes and thoughts about where and to whom their assets are distributed. Many of them also have ideas about what they do and do not wish to have happen when their life ends. Lack of preparation and planning means that these wishes likely will not be honored. In addition, it causes additional strain and stress on the people who are left to sort out the affairs. An example of this is the story of Frances.
The business of selling long term care insurance has changed dramatically over the last 20-30 years, which in turn has affected how senior citizens protect their assets.
What was once a busy marketplace of more than 100 insurers vying for long-term care dollars, has shrunk to a group of fewer than 20.
This was because many insurers drastically underestimated how long their policy holders would live, and how many claims they would file.
As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year, the insurance industry is in the midst of something of a panic trying to cover its losses, which means that many senior citizens who have long-term care policies are seeing significant rate hikes, some as high as 90 percent.
This leaves them with an almost impossible choice: pay this steep increase or walk away from coverage you’ve been paying into for years, if not decades.
It’s what’s known as “solo aging,” a term for what happens when a senior has no children or younger family members to help them as they get older.
There was a time when getting older meant going to live in a nursing facility or moving in with younger family members who could help tend to a senior’s needs.
But your work doesn’t stop there. Your will might address questions about what happens to your assets after your death, but it doesn’t do everything.
This is why you should have an estate plan that includes things such as a living will, power of attorney and health care power of attorney to ensure that you can still meet your medical and financial needs if you ever become incapacitated.
May is National Elder Law Month, as designated by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. It is a way to acknowledge the profession that supports seniors and their families with all of their planning needs. And while that sounds great, many people still ask, “What do elder law attorneys do?” Part 1 of this series, “Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys” will explore several ways elder law attorneys help seniors and their loved ones.
Read up on retirement planning in America, and you come across some pretty startling statistics:
- One in three Americans have no retirement savings. The same number of people say they expect to work in retirement to supplement their income
- More than 40 percent of single seniors over 65 get at least 90 percent of their income from Social Security
- Even healthy couples will pay close to $400,000 on health care in retirement
With all that in mind, it becomes painfully apparent how important it is to plan for retirement, yet it’s a process that many people aren’t even sure how to approach.
With that in mind, we’d like to suggest some questions you should ask to help start putting together your retirement plan.
When planning for your loved ones’ future, you may consider creating a trust to protect assets set aside for them. If you create a trust, you will need a reliable and trustworthy person to name as the trustee who will manage the trust. Choosing the correct trustee is an important decision because he or she will be responsible for carrying out your wishes when managing the trust.
The trustee will be responsible for duties such as managing investments, paying bills, preparing tax returns, and managing other accounts within the trust.
Before choosing a trustee, consider the following points that will help you determine who will be best suited for the role.
1. A trustee must be over the age of eighteen and capable of managing his or her own affairs successfully.
2. The trustee should be completely trustworthy and committed to the beneficiary’s best interests.
3. The trustee should be able to make sound judgments and have a strong understanding of his or her duties as the trustee. While not required, legal or financial expertise is valuable.
4. If a person is going to be the trustee of a special needs trust, knowledge of public benefits and how to avoid invalidating these benefits is beneficial.
5. The trustee should be someone who is healthy and will be able to continue managing your trust for many years to come.
6. A trustee should have the time to devote to managing your trust effectively. If the person you are considering is very busy, you should consider other candidates before making your final choice.
7. If you don’t know someone who would be a suitable trustee, consider hiring a professional trustee or institution to manage your trust. Professional trustees may include a trust company, accountant, lawyer, or investment manager or advisor. However, professional trustees or institutions do charge a fee or percentage to manage your trust.
8. Consider co-trustees if you would like to have a trusted friend or family member and a professional trustee manage your trust together.
9. Understand your family dynamics when selecting a trustee. If you are choosing a family member to be the trustee, try to avoid conflicts between family members and explain to other relatives why you have chosen a particular person to be the trustee.
10. If you make a relative or friend your trustee, decide who will be the successor in the event that the person is no longer able to manage your trust.
After you have chosen a trustee, it is advisable to reexamine your choice every few years to ensure that your trustee is still the best choice for your needs. If circumstances change, you may need to assign a different trustee who is better suited to the required responsibilities.
It’s no surprise that having a special needs child is both challenging and rewarding. Not only are there school and medical issues to consider, there are also the financial needs of your child. Planning for your child’s financial well-being should be an important part of your estate plan especially since improved healthcare has allowed children with conditions such as cerebral palsy and Down’s Syndrome, to live longer.
What do you need to do to provide for your special needs child? These things can help during the special needs child planning process.