As an estate planning lawyer, I help people plan for long-term care costs on a regular basis. Long-term care can include any service that helps people who have a prolonged illness. The illness can be a physical disability or a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The services may include help with activities of daily living, home health care, adult day care, hospice care, nursing home care, or care in an assisted living facility. The level of assistance required can include physical therapy, administration of medication, and help with daily activities such as bathing, eating, and dressing.

Paying for long-term care can be financially devastating to families. Contrary to what many people believe, Medicare coverage will not pay for most of the care they will need if they suffer from a long-term illness. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average costs in the U.S. (in 2009) were:

  • $198/day for a semi-private room in a nursing home (or about $6,000 per month)
  • $219/day for a private room in a nursing home (or about $6,500 per month)
  • $3,131/month for care in an Assisted Living Facility (for a one-bedroom unit)
  • $21/hour for a Home Health Aide
  • $19/hour for a Homemaker service
  • $67/day for care in an Adult Day Health Care Center

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you are now young and healthy you don’t need to worry about long-term care, but consider this:

  • Life expectancy after age 65 has now increased to 17.9 years, up from 1940 when life expectancy after 65 was only 13 extra years. The longer people live, the greater the chance they will need assistance due to chronic conditions.
  • 44% of people reaching age 65 are expected to need a nursing home at least once in their lifetime, and 53% of them will stay for one year or longer.

So, the bottom line is that millions of us are going to need long-term care. It’s important to put an estate plan in place that will protect your assets if you become disabled. I’ve seen too many instances where a family has waited until crisis strikes to take action. Most of the time it’s then too late to save their assets and income from the hands of such a facility.

Instead of putting this off, you can talk to an estate planning attorney now to ensure your bills will be covered in the long-run, without losing your house, your assets, or other income sources in the process. To get started, simply call our office at (919) 443-3035 to register for an upcoming seminar or to schedule a Vision Meeting to discuss your planning goals.

Together we’ll walk through the complicated world of long-term care planning to ensure your family is protected when they need it the most.

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning
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