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Why it's crucial to plan for long-term care needs

While we all know that aging is often accompanied by declining physical and mental health and capacity, most Americans fail to take steps to plan for long-term care needs. This is particularly problematic when you consider that, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of individuals who turn age 65 will require some form of long-term care.

This statistic is further complicated by the soaring costs for both in-home assisted and residential nursing home care. Government statistics show that long-term care costs in Massachusetts are among the highest in the nation and individuals in need of home health aide care can expect to pay between $50,222 and $57,200 each year while the annual costs for a private room in a skilled nursing home currently run between $102,049 and $255,891.

When it comes to paying these astronomical costs, people often have misconceptions. For example, private health insurance typically does not include long-term care coverage. Additionally, under both Medicare and Medicaid, long-term care coverage is minimal and many people don't meet the financial eligibility requirements in order to take advantage of these benefits.

Suddenly faced with the prospect of paying thousands of dollars each month for these much-needed services, an individual and his or her family members may be forced to deplete retirement savings and even tap into investments and assets that were slated for an inheritance. No one should be forced to make these types of difficult financial and highly emotional decisions.

While the costs associated with long-term care are indeed high, an estate planning attorney can assist in devising a strategy and plan for how you and your family can afford these costs. For individuals who are nearing or in retirement, it's important to contact an estate planning attorney today to discuss your long-term care plans.

Source: LongTermCare.gov, "Costs of care in your state," April 4, 2016

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