In the case of America's population in general, and Michigan's especially, statistics show that people are living longer. Michigan's population percentage of people 65 and older is greater than the national average, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. What the statistics don't show is that not everyone is preparing for this new reality in their early-life estate planning.
Long-term care planning is developing into a new, important provision in estate planning. When people think of long-term care, they may think of nursing homes. But this type of care can be related to both medical and non-medical needs, and can often be accomplished just as easily in-home as in a nursing home. The key is to plan accordingly earlier in life.
What are the options? Typically, many people believe that if they ever need long-term care due to a medical or non-medical issue later in life, they will be able to depend on and tap into the equity in their homes, thus simply paying for the costs out-of-pocket. The recent housing bubble pop has thrown a wet blanket on much of the thought concerning that approach, so what are the other options?
The newest line of thinking (and also a reason we can thank those statistics about living longer) is that many people are focusing on prevention. If they stay healthy by eating right and exercising, or so the thinking goes, they will be able to delay or even eliminate the need for any type of long-term care at all. This is a good start, but not a good wholesale replacement for an effective estate plan.
The last and seemingly best option is to purchase long-term care insurance and incorporate the policy into estate planning tools, much as one would with a life insurance policy. Purchasing this type of insurance early in life saves on the overall cost. Being able to count on the coverage and incorporate the known benefits into wills and various powers of attorney can provide peace of mind and lay a good foundation for enjoying a higher quality of life should the need for long-term care arise.
Source: Fox Business, "How to Plan for Long-Term Health Care," Donna Fuscaldo, March 6, 2012