As we age, we all want to avoid the need for nursing home or long-term care. Ideally, we would like to gracefully age within the comfort of our own homes without requiring assistance from caregivers. Nevertheless, the truth remains that there may come a time, either for yourself or your spouse, when long-term care (LTC) becomes an inevitable consideration. Proactively preparing for this potentiality is important for several compelling reasons. With that in mind, the attorneys at Legacy Care Law Firm discuss what you need to know about long-term care planning in New Hampshire.
Why Is Long-Term Care Planning Important?
While it would be great to know ahead of time if you will need long-term care, it doesn’t work that way. What we do know are the odds. When you reach retirement age (65) you already stand about a 50 percent chance of one day needing LTC and the longer you live the more those odds increase. We also know that LTC is expensive. Acknowledging the likelihood that you or a spouse will need LTC allows you to plan appropriately for that possibility and to make sure that you are financially prepared to cover the cost of long-term care.
Long-Term Care Planning in New Hampshire
While it is always best to consult with your estate planning attorney before you start working on a long-term care plan, there are a few common steps most people take when creating a long-term care plan, such as:
- Long-term care planning should ideally begin while you are still in good health. Although most people cannot predict the need for LTC, evaluating your current health status is a crucial first step. Consider any chronic conditions you may have, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, and be mindful of your family history of serious health issues, like heart disease or dementia. Understanding your health risks can help you anticipate the potential need for LTC down the road. Moreover, it’s important to recognize that certain health conditions can significantly impact insurance premiums as you age. Therefore, assessing your health today can aid in making informed decisions about insurance coverage.
- . When planning for LTC, it’s vital to recognize that it encompasses a wide range of care options, each with its own associated costs. While full-time nursing home care is one type of LTC, it’s far from the only option. Alternatives include assisted living facilities, community-based care programs, home health aides, and even support from family caregivers. To create a comprehensive LTC plan, you need to have a clear understanding of what these various care options entail and what they cost. Nationally, the average annual cost of LTC in 2022 exceeded $100,000, a figure that continues to rise. In New Hampshire, that same year averaged just over $144,000.
- As you age, your reliance on healthcare coverage becomes more pronounced. Many seniors rely on Medicare to cover a significant portion of their healthcare expenses; however, Medicare does not cover LTC expenses. Most private health insurance policies also do not include LTC coverage. To address this gap, you may consider a separate LTC insurance policy. LTC insurance can provide coverage for various types of long-term care, but it’s essential to carefully review the terms, conditions, and premiums associated with these policies. Keep in mind that premiums can be substantial, and the level of coverage may not meet all your needs. Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits against the costs and explore other options for covering LTC expenses.
- While many seniors express a preference for aging in their own homes and receiving care from family members, these desires may not align with reality. It’s essential to have open and honest discussions with your family about your LTC preferences and their ability and willingness to provide care. Consider your family dynamics and logistics. If you have multiple children, evaluate their proximity and willingness to assist. If one child lives nearby and is readily available to provide care, while others are distant or unable to assist, it may significantly influence your LTC plan.
- Medicaid serves as a crucial safety net for LTC expenses, covering a significant portion of the costs. Medicaid eligibility, however, hinges on meeting specific income and asset limits. If you possess assets that exceed these limits, you may be required to “spend down” those assets before becoming eligible for Medicaid. To avoid jeopardizing your hard-earned assets and ensure your eligibility for Medicaid benefits when needed, it’s essential to incorporate Medicaid planning into your comprehensive estate strategy.
Do You Need Help with Long-Term Care Planning?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you need help with long-term care planning in New Hampshire, contact our estate planning attorneys in our North Andover, Woburn, and Beverly offices at (978) 969-0331. Our Salem and Nashua, New Hampshire office can be reached at (603) 894-4141.
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