You may have just celebrated a big birthday. Perhaps, you turned 70 and are planning a summer cruise to celebrate. You’re grateful for your good health. Yet, you know you aren’t getting any younger. And your spouse has diabetes and needed open-heart surgery last year. When should you start planning for when you’ll need long-term care?
First, you never should wait to plan for long-term care, which is very expensive. About 70% of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point.
By planning ahead, you more likely will have more choices later on and can have more input on where and when you or your spouse receive long-term care. Also, you can plan better on how you will cover the costs of long-term care.
As part of your long-term care planning, you should meet with an estate planning and elder care law attorney. An attorney who has helped others plan for long-term care will know how you can protect your assets and assure you and your spouse can pay for good care.
You want to keep in mind that to qualify for state aid to help with long-term care, New York has a five-year look back period. That means the state will evaluate how you spent your assets in the last five years to see if there are ways to pay for your care. So if you want to pass on gift money to your children or give significant assets to help pay for your grandchildren’s college costs, you need to keep in mind that spending your assets down should happen five years ahead of when you might need long-term care.
Researching your long-term care options
After you’ve worked with your estate planning and elder care attorney about a financial plan for your long-term care, you’ll want to research some of your local options. Ask some friends for referrals for quality care options.
You then can set up tours of these facilities, perhaps looking at assisted living options and full nursing care homes. You want to know what services and amenities these facilities offer, as well as feel comfortable with their care environment and the qualifications of the staff.
You may not need long-term care for a decade. Or you or your spouse could suffer a serious health setback and need it in a year. By planning ahead and protecting your assets, you’ll feel better that you know your options if you need care sooner rather than later.