It’s far easier to delay thinking about our own aging and end of life decisions when parents are healthy and well. However, once you’ve experienced the illness, incapacity and/or death of a parent, reality sets in. That’s when you realize that you need to start planning, including planning for long-term care.
WTOP’s recent article, “Preparing for old age: Long-term care, insurance and estate planning,” says the first step is to mirror the kind of conversations you held with your parents and have the same conversation with yourself.
Take a look at your vision for how you want to age and how you want to address your end-of-life issues, before you make any moves with your estate plan or insurance coverage. If you have a partner, first work independently on your own wishes, and then have a conversation together.
Working with aging parents can also make you think about your planning for long-term care insurance. Start the process when you’re in your 50s. The older you get, the greater chance you have of running out of time to save or of becoming uninsurable. Recent statistics published by AARP show that 52% of those individuals who turn 65 today, will develop some form of severe disability requiring long-term care support. The average lifetime cost of long-term care in retirement tops $250,000.
The next step is to review your current estate plan in light of your goals. Many individuals or couples who have a plan in place will forget about them, letting their documents become out-of-date and not reviewing how new assets will pass after death. If you don’t have an estate plan yet, getting it completed should be a top priority. Your estate planning attorney is experienced at working with clients to understand their wishes and to create a plan that reflects those intentions.
Before executing a plan, you’ll need to calculate your total level of wealth, create an inventory of assets you own, create a list of intended heirs and charitable organization names, as well as a divorce decree, if applicable. If you have minor children, you’ll need to designate guardians to act in your absence. It is also necessary to decide whether those same people will manage the inheritance for your children or whether you want someone else to assume that responsibility.
Planning for the later stages of life include considering many aspects of your estate plan. If something unexpected occurred and you became incapacitated, an estate plan will spell out what your wishes are, including who is to make health care decisions for you. How would your family pay for long-term care, and how would it impact your spouse? All of these considerations are part of the estate planning process.
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Reference: WTOP (May 3, 2017) “Preparing for old age: Long-term care, insurance and estate planning”