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The Retirement Risk No One Wants to Discuss

“Don’t dodge the long-term care talk. Paying for long-term care can be a costly and complex undertaking, if you're unprepared.”


Consider this: in 2018, the national median annual cost of a semiprivate room in a nursing home was $85,775. A home health aide in 2017 cost $49,192. That’s not small change.

So how do you prepare for long-term care costs?

Start planning now. The earlier in your life that you purchase a long-term care insurance policy, the more likely you’ll be able to afford to buy one. As you get older, they get more expensive—if you can even purchase them at all.

Where would you want to receive care? If you have a choice, would you rather have someone come to the house for a few hours to help, or would you prefer to move to an assisted living facility? Both have costs. However, figuring out which one you’d prefer (if you have a choice), will help in the planning process.

You can now purchase more than just the traditional long-term care program. There’s also a hybrid cash-value life insurance policy or you can self-insure, if you have the cash on hand.

Who will be making your medical decisions? Have your estate planning attorney put a healthcare directive in place—designating a trusted person who will make decisions about your medical care, if you should become unable to do so.

Who will make your financial decisions? Your estate planning attorney will most likely also create a power of attorney for you. This must be someone who you trust, someone good with handling money and making decisions and who can take over paying bills and managing your household budget, if you can’t.

Both these people may never be called upon to act—but if they are, you and your family will be in much better shape. Make sure to discuss your choices for health care and finances with these individuals.

In some cases, particularly when it comes to the financial power of attorney, a bank or a professional advisor may be a good choice. They have certain reporting requirements and may be a less emotional choice than a family member.

Your estate planning attorney will, as part of creating your estate plan, speak with you about how you can go about making the best decisions, when selecting these individuals.

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