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Long term care planning now avoids worry later

Colorado residents can give themselves the gift of peace of mind in their golden years by planning now for their needs after retirement. One of the ways to do this is to engage in long term care planning with an attorney who practices estate planning law.

One study done on long term care in America revealed that almost 65 percent of the population over 40 have done little planning for their later years; some have done none. Thirty percent admit that the subject is not one they wish to dwell on. But putting one's head in the sand will not help the 70 percent of seniors 65 and over who one day will require long term care in the last years of their lives.

First, calculate the potential for your needing care and its cost. While nobody has an accurate crystal ball, an educated guess can be made by examining your family history and current health status. If you had relatives who lived to their 80s or beyond and received some type of assistance, it's a fair bet you might too. Your estate planning attorney can compute an annual Cost of Care rate, depending on many unique and geographic factors.

It's never too early to start planning for your future. Those who begin planning early for their sunset years have fewer worries when their bodies or minds falter. You also avoid shifting that burden later to spouses or children.

Survey all your options. Long term care insurance policies can have hefty premiums and medical exclusions, so it's best to purchase them while in good health at a younger age before premiums skyrocket or disqualification occurs. Some policies may be offered through employers and have qualifying tax deductions available.

Some people choose to self-insure and pay their own costs from special accounts like IRAs and annuities set up for just this reason. For those with limited resources, Medicare and Medicaid may be the only possible options, but the requirements vary by state and can be quite restrictive and require liquidation of all assets before qualifying.

There is one exception to the usual Medicaid asset limitations. The Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Program is a partnership of long term care with each state's Medicaid program and allows those participating to keep more of their assets.

Source: The Motley Fool, "3 Simple Steps for Long-Term Care Planning" Jessica Alling, May. 17, 2014

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