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Unanticipated medical expenses and estate planning: 5 FAQs

Being retired and having assets to pass along is fortunate. But large, unexpected medical expenses can really start to drain even the most well-managed wealth.

What steps should you consider in order to prevent this from happening? In this post, we will use an FAQ format to discuss five key points.

Is it possible to get hit with large medical bills even when you're insured?

Yes. The problem is two-fold. First, healthcare costs keep going up. And second, the copayments and deductibles insurance companies try to put on policy holders keep going up as well.

What can you do if a medical bill seems excessive?

Financial planners and wealth managers are increasingly encouraging clients to push back against excessive medical bills.

For example, it may be possible to negotiate a discount on a pricey procedure from a provider that is outside of your insurance company's network.

Another possibility is to offer to pay cash in exchange for a reduction in the overall bill.

What if the charges on certain medical bills don't seem accurate?

It is definitely legitimate to raise concerns about questionable charges.

For example, if you were supposed to be charged in-network rates, it is improper for a healthcare provider to switch that up on you and charge out-of-network rates.

Are there ways to protect your personal assets from major medical costs while becoming eligible for Medicaid or other government resources?

Absolutely. By using a trust or other advance planning methods, it is possible to preserve certain assets and pass them along to heirs. A knowledgeable elder law attorney can guide you in this process.

If someone dies with unpaid debts, can those end up reducing the amount that heirs receive from the estate?

Yes, that can happen, especially when an estate goes through probate.

With effective estate planning, however, there are ways to preserve assets to the greatest degree possible. As we've discussed in this post, this includes being proactive about addressing large unanticipated medical bills.

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