Have you had a family member that had to be placed in a nursing home? If not, you probably know someone who has. Statistics say that 70% of us will need some type of long-term care in our lifetime. That’s a scary statistic — almost 3 of every 4 people! If those statistics are true, don’t you think we should be spending more time planning to protect our life savings from this likely scenario?
A deeper dive into statistics says that we spend 7000% more time watching television than we do planning for our long-term care. Experts also say that we spend at least 200 hours a year planning vacations, but only spend an hour a month planning for long-term care. If 70% of us are going to need long-term care at some point in our lives, we need to spend more time planning for that. We need to plan to make sure we have someone who will take care of our finances and help preserve our life savings if we are unable to do so.
If you don’t have a plan, the State where you live has a plan for you. If you need long-term care and don’t have the necessary documents in place (we’ll discuss those below), a huge burden will be placed on your family. Without a plan in place, they’ll have to go to the local probate court and file a guardianship or conservatorship against you. You don’t want that.
You want to be able to choose who is going to help you with your healthcare decisions. You want to choose who is going to be in charge of your checkbook, life savings, and other assets if you’re no longer able to make sound financial decisions. You need a plan. Because if you don’t have a plan, the State does.
Estate Planning Documents You Need
Durable Power of Attorney
The first document that you need to make sure you have is called a durable power of attorney. This is a document that gives power to specific individuals for them to manage your assets, life savings, and finances if you are unable to do so. Most people choose their wife and/or children to do this, but you can choose whoever you’d like. This commonly called a substitute for a conservatorship, which is basically power over a person’s property.
Advanced Healthcare Directive
The second document you need is called an advanced healthcare directive or living will. This determines who will make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Much like the durable power of attorney, most people choose their spouse or children. But you can choose anyone you trust to be in charge of your healthcare decisions.
This document will also outline your specific requests for care if you are incapacitated. Do you want to be kept alive by artificial means? Do you want to be put on a ventilator or have a feeding tube? All of these questions will be covered in your advanced healthcare directive.
A Basic Will
The third document you’ll need is a basic will. This document determines what happens to your property and life savings if you pass. This document will outline who receives specific assets of yours, when they will receive those assets, and how they will be given those assets. Maybe you are in a second marriage and you want to make sure your children from your first marriage get an inheritance. You can use this document to ensure that all of your assets are not passed to your wife and that some are given to your children.
Your Life Savings – The Planning Pyramid
Those three documents listed above form the foundation of your long-term care plan. But we also need to consider ways to protect your independence, safety, and security should you or your spouse need long-term care. That is part of the pyramid of planning that we will help you build. We want to protect your life savings from expensive nursing home costs. We also want to ensure that your spouse will be safe and secure if you need nursing home care.
Here in south Georgia and north Florida, the average cost of nursing home care is $8,500 a month. You may have enough income and assets to cover those expenses. But what if only you or your spouse needs nursing home care? One of you would be in a nursing home for $8,500 a month, but you still have all the monthly expenses for the spouse that is still at home? That’s why we need to develop advanced planning tools to ensure your safety, security, and independence is protected.
A Tough Conversation to Have
Many people do not want to have this conversation. Some people are scared to talk about long-term care planning because they’re scared to think about the inevitable scenario where they will likely need long-term care. Others don’t understand long-term care planning, and so they neglect it completely. But if 70% of us are going to need long-term care at some point, we all should be planning for it.
Here at the Davidson Law Office, we try to take away the fear that is associated with long-term care planning. We’re here to help you and your family plan accordingly for a wide range of scenarios that could happen. We will help to protect your assets from those who might not have your best interests in mind.
We hope that we’ve raised some important questions for you to address with your family. We also hope that we have helped to calm your anxiety about planning for long-term care. It is imperative that you don’t wait until the last minute to do your long-term care planning. As is the case with many things in life, last minute planning is difficult for you and your family. In order to make these plans work the way they’re supposed to work, we need to plan well in advance.
If you would like to start your long-term care planning or have further questions, please complete this form or give us a call at (229) 226-8183. We’ll be happy to help you get started getting these important documents in place so that you and your assets are protected.
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