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The truth about long-term care planning

When the subject of long-term care planning comes up, some people in California have views and thoughts that conform to an old way of thinking about LTC. This essentially means assuming Medicare will pay for such expenses or that children will pick up the tab. Some other people believe they'll never need such care.

But with more baby boomers reaching retirement age, there is an increased need for long term care planning for an individual's own care or for aging parents. Based on 2017 figures, the average cost of nursing home care can exceed more than $8,000 per month. However, Medicare does not cover long-term care expenses, and Medicaid only provides LTC assistance for qualified individuals who are financially destitute.

Ongoing care expenses could also erode lifetime savings, especially since LTC premiums can increase. However, it is possible for anyone in need of LTC to be proactive about planning. It's a process that can involve taking stock of current assets, projecting future spending needs, and exploring LTC insurance options based on anticipated needs. With insurance, it can be helpful for a policyholder to learn key details such as how benefits would be paid out, how reimbursement would be handled if out-of-pocket costs have to be paid, whether or not declared benefits would be received upfront, and if unused benefits can be passed along to heirs and beneficiaries.

An elder law attorney might prove to be a valuable resource for anyone making long-term care plans for themselves or other family members. An attorney may also make recommendations about powers of attorney for healthcare directives and living wills to allow an individual to name a responsible party to make important LTC decisions. Doing so might reduce the risk of family conflicts when there's a need to make important decisions about long term care planning quickly.

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