Justin, I haven’t been able to spend as much time with my parents as I would have liked this year. I’m seeing things that make me worry they are going to need long-term care sooner rather than later. Any advice on what we should be doing right now to be ready? – June
June, Happy New Year to you! The timing of your question couldn’t be better, with the new year right around the corner. Although every situation is different, I do have a few general tips to point you in the right direction.
First, it is essential that they have solid estate planning documents in place before the need for long-term care arises. This includes good power-of-attorney documents and a full set of healthcare documents, including a healthcare power of attorney, a medical records release, and a living will. It might also include some documents specifically designed to help them avoid probate court should they pass before they need long-term care.
Second, we might consider retitling some assets now to protect them from future long-term care costs. But we need to be careful here. Lookback rules and gifting penalties can cause trouble if you retitle assets too near the time of applying for benefits. You should work with experienced counsel if you go this direction.
Third, keep in mind that you don’t have to go it alone! Even if it seems too late to retitle assets given the lookback rules I mentioned, there are many things we can do at the time of need—even when long-term care is right around the corner—to protect income and assets. Often, the worst thing you can do is start down the private pay route and watch the money disappear. Check out my book, You Need A Plan, at ElrodFirm.com to learn more, and give us a call for a free strategy session!