Most people consider long-term care or nursing home care as something to worry about long after you retire. Long-term care planning is a proactive step in preparing for your care when you get older and can no longer care for yourself, but it also can help plan for the unexpected.
If you or your spouse suffer an illness or injury that hinders your ability to care for yourselves before you reach retirement, having a long-term care plan in place could relieve some of the immediate stress of the life-changing situation.
Why do you need a long-term care plan?
Social security income and retirement savings are rarely enough to cover nursing home care these days. Often spouses do not enter long-term care facilities at the same time, which means your financial resources will split between the costs of the nursing facility and the living expenses for the spouse that remains at your home.
How do you make a long-term care plan?
Many planning strategies involve asset protection plans to try to qualify for assistance from Medicaid. This may involve transferring property out of your name to a family member or gifting other assets to family members. Medicaid looks back five years at the gifts you made when you apply, so any asset protection should be complete at least five years before you intend to apply for assistance.
Ideally, a long-term care plan should be part of a solid estate plan. You should reevaluate and update your estate plan whenever there is a significant change in your life circumstances, finances or family size. Adding a long-term care plan to your estate plan should be part of those timely updates.