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Planning for long-term care: be realistic about payment options

When aging and chronic health concerns are involved, there is no easy answer to estate planning questions. If the ability to perform daily tasks becomes badly compromised, long-term care may be necessary. But as we discussed in our March 13 post, the sticker shock that comes from pondering the price of long-term care insurance is very real.

Still, it's important for seniors in Massachusetts and across the country to know their estate planning options. And that includes becoming informed about what is involved in long-term care planning and how it fits into an overall wealth transmission strategy.

Keep in mind that "long-term care" isn't synonymous with long-term care insurance policies. Long-term care is a much broader term. It refers to the assistance that may be needed when an elderly person's capacities for taking care of himself or herself declines severely. 

The decline could be due to the natural consequences of aging. It could be due to a chronic health condition or conditions. Or the decline could be the result of a combination of aging and chronic illness.

Whatever the cause, the cost of care can be considerable. It is not enough to vaguely hope that Medicare will swoop in and pick up the tab. 

To be sure, Medicare or other government programs may be able to pay part of the costs of care of long-term care. But even for those who are eligible, there are many specific rules and requirements involved.

That is why it's so important to clarify upfront as best you can what type of care arrangement makes the most sense and how you will pay for it.

Source: "'Medicare Will Pay For It' And 10 More Myths About Long-Term Care," Huffington Post, June 3, 2013

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