Essential Long-Term Care Guidance


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Essential Long-Term Care Planning: Protect Your Future Now

Navigating the complexities of long-term care can be daunting, but understanding your options today can safeguard your tomorrow and ensure peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

The Reality of Long-Term Care Insurance

If you are 60 or older, or in bad health and think you could use long-term care sooner than most, this information is extremely important to you. One of the biggest obstacles in estate planning is long-term care and how it will be paid for. Long-term care can include a variety of services including:

  • Home Health
  • Independent Living
  • Assisted Living
  • Nursing Home Care

Many people assume that Medicare will pay for long-term care and this misconception may stem from the fact that Medicare has been paying a lot of their medical bills and prescriptions for many years. This belief is also reinforced by the fact that Medicare actually covers 100 days of long-term care. However, there are strict guidelines on how these 100 days may be utilized. If a Medicare patient were to have a fall or other serious health event that renders them incapable of returning home, they will generally be sent to a long-term care facility for rehab and recuperation. In the event it does exceed 100 days, the patient is expected to pay for it through either a long-term care insurance policy if they had secured one, or through self-pay.

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Understanding Long-Term Care Insurance

What is Long-Term Care Insurance?

Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance policy designed to cover the costs associated with long-term care services, which are not typically covered by regular health insurance or Medicare.

Most people do not have long-term care insurance, largely due to its high cost. These policies have undergone significant changes in the past few years. Many companies that previously offered long-term care options have either stopped selling this type of insurance or gone out of business entirely. Long-term care is very expensive as is, and long-term care policy pricing often reflects this.

When Should I Start Considering Long-Term Care Insurance?

It is generally recommended to start considering a long-term care insurance policy in your mid-50s to early 60s. If you are in this age group or feel that it might be beneficial, you should consult your financial advisor about the cost and coverage options in long-term care insurance. This inquiry shouldn’t cost you anything and will help you to understand your coverage options. Your advisor will walk you through the pricing and qualifications necessary to determine if long-term care insurance suits your needs.

Long-term care insurance can provide essential protection for yourself and your loved ones should you require long-term care. Some policies may also include life insurance, a great improvement from the old “use it or lose it” type policies of the past.

Seeking Assistance and Exploring Alternatives

If you do not already have a financial advisor to assist you, you are welcome to call our office and we would be happy to direct you to a qualified professional who can help you navigate long-term care insurance.

If a long-term care policy is not accessible to you, then the only option is to self-pay until you run out of money, at which time an application would be submitted to the State of Oklahoma requesting they pay the monthly bills for any long-term care.

It is possible, and typically beneficial, to include long-term care planning in your estate planning. To do this, the attorney assisting you will need to have a good understanding of Medicaid, how it works, and how a person and their family can plan for their future. This process requires careful consideration of a number of factors, including but not limited to income, assets, and what that individual or family might want to protect in the event long-term care is needed.

Misconceptions about Long-Term Care Insurance

When people hear Medicaid, they often associate it with government benefits such as food stamps, housing vouchers, and health insurance (called “SoonerCare” in Oklahoma) for individuals and their families dealing with financial hardships. For those who have never received these benefits, there’s a common misconception that Medicaid is irrelevant to their situation. However, a critical yet often overlooked benefit of Medicaid is its coverage of long-term care services for patients who meet specific income and asset criteria.

Medicaid planning frequently involves the creation of a special trust where certain assets are placed in trust, of which the individual remains the beneficiary under specific terms. Should you require long-term care, you will utilize assets outside of this trust for payment. Once these assets are depleted, it is not necessary to tap into the assets held within the specialized trust. This intricate process is best explained in a detailed one-on-one discussion.

One of the biggest hurdles in planning your future with Medicaid is the statutorily required five-year lookback into your finances. If someone were to deed their house away or give all their investments away to their children or others less than five years prior to their application, that individual may be disqualified from Medicaid benefits for up to 60 months.

This is why long-term care and Medicaid planning are highly recommended to be considered at the age of 60, or earlier if family history suggests the possibility of requiring long-term care prior to 65.

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Schedule Your Consultation with MEUS Law

I greatly advise you to utilize the services of an attorney who understands Medicaid planning and the effects of long-term care when estate planning or updating existing estate plans. Many attorneys claim to do estate planning, but don’t even understand the difference between a first- and third-party special needs trust, much less the ins and outs of Medicaid and long-term care planning.

At our strategy meetings with clients, we don’t use lengthy intake forms to figure out the right next step for you. Instead, we utilize our knowledge and experience in estate planning to consider all factors that may apply. We make our discussions with clients easy to follow and collaborate with them to figure out the best possible option for everyone involved. If needed, after the first meeting we might ask the client to discuss their long-term insurance plan options with a financial advisor, or look into something with their CPA, and then meet back to figure out how to proceed with planning.

Schedule Your Appointment Today and let MEUS Law help you navigate the complexities of long-term care planning and develop a comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets and secures your future.