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Planning on Medicare or family for long-term care? Think again

It can be uncomfortable for St. Paul residents to confront unpleasant thoughts about what might happen in their future. This is often a driving reason for why individuals may not engage in estate planning, as the thought of passing on and not being alive is one that many would like to avoid if possible.

Yet, even among those who have set up wills, trusts or other estate planning documents, a significant portion have not thought about other contingencies for which they need to plan. Mainly, many individuals have not properly planned for their long-term care needs, which could include the possibility of living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. In fact, only 9 percent of Americans were said to have owned a long-term care insurance policy according to one recent study, despite the fact that between 60 and 70 percent of them over 65-years-old would need long-term care.

The lack of planning for many certainly is not due to long-term care being insignificant, as individuals may end up paying over $80,000 per year if they need full-time skilled nursing care. With this type of monetary demand, it is no wonder why many deplete their assets quickly when paying for long-term care once they need it.

In terms of those who may be in need of planning for the future, there are many myths that are present. Perhaps the biggest myth individuals have is that their long-term care needs will be paid for by Medicare. In truth, there are requirements that must be met for Medicare to kick in, and individuals are not guaranteed to benefits under the program.

Individuals may also believe their family will help them should they need it later in life. While many families are fortunate to have such a support system in place, it is not always possible for senior citizens to depend on family for care or for assisting with the costs of care.

Accordingly, the bottom line is that individuals should recognize there is a serious need for long-term care planning, and they need to fully understand not only the need but the realities of what is required for proper long-term care planning. By putting the myths behind them and giving the issue some much-needed thought, individuals can set up a plan and get the peace of mind of knowing they are protected.

Source: McKnights, "Many Americans don't understand long-term care," Roger Roemmich, May 14, 2014

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