The Importance of Long-Term Care Planning

Many Arizonans need long-term care in their later years. Even though Americans are living longer, studies project that as many as 70 percent of adults over 65 will need long-term care services like home health care or a nursing home before they die. Making preparations now can help ensure you have the financial resources to afford quality care without breaking the bank. That’s where long-term care planning comes in.

Long-term care planning involves preparing for the legal, financial, and healthcare issues that arise with old age. Estate plans that account for long-term care needs can ensure that your assets are protected and you qualify for government programs like Medicaid to cover your long-term care needs.

A wealth protection planning attorney from Pennington Law, PLLC can review your situation and recommend strategies to prepare for the future without depleting your hard-earned assets.

Our firm has many years of experience helping individuals across Arizona plan to secure the services they need for maximum protection and peace of mind. Call us today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you.

What is Long-Term Care?

Long-Term Care Planning

Generally speaking, long-term care includes a variety of services individual can access for help with their personal needs and healthcare concerns when they can no longer manage the tasks of daily living themselves. Unlike other types of healthcare that serve as momentary interventions, long-term care usually becomes necessary due to ongoing concerns, such as age-related issues or chronic illness. It comes in two primary forms.

At-Home Care

Many people opt for long-term care services in their homes, at least initially. Family members and other loved ones help the recipient with activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and taking medications. In other cases, the care recipient will receive in-home help from paid professionals such as nurses, home health aides, and therapists.

Residential or Community Care

Many communities have low- or no-cost senior centers that provide services such as meals, activities, exercise, and personal care. For those with around-the-clock health needs, nursing homes and assisted living centers allow older or ill individuals to receive the care they need in a dedicated facility.

Legal Aspects of Long-Term Care Planning

Proper legal planning is crucial to maximize your long-term care options. Key legal documents include:

  • Living wills – This instrument specifies your wishes regarding medical treatment if you become incapacitated, including your preferences for life-sustaining treatment.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney – This authorizes someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself. Appointing someone you trust is critical.
  • Trusts – Trusts are agreements that people can use to protect their money and property while they are still alive and after death. They also direct how assets will be distributed. Certain types of trusts, like Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts and Miller Trusts, can help shield assets from long-term care costs.

An experienced estate planning attorney can ensure all documents comply with Arizona laws and accurately capture your wishes. They will also stay up-to-date on any legal changes that could impact your plan.

Legal Prep Long Term Care

Financial Planning for Long-Term Care

Long-term care is expensive, so proactive financial planning is essential. Costs vary, but national averages for skilled nursing facilities exceed $100,000 per year, especially if you want a private room. Home health aides average $50,000 annually.

Potential strategies to plan for nursing home care or related costs include:

  • Long-term care insurance – Long-term care insurance policies can cover care received in the home, an assisted living facility, or nursing home. Purchasing these types of policies at a younger age is less expensive, but premium costs vary according to coverage options. One significant benefit is that some policies are tax-qualified to allow the use of pre-tax dollars. However, not everyone can qualify due to pre-existing health conditions. Paying premiums can also be cost-prohibitive for some people.
  • Life insurance policies with long-term care riders – These policies provide a death benefit payout to beneficiaries, but some allow policyholders to access a portion of the death benefit early if they need long-term care. Keep in mind that the funds used for long-term care reduce the remaining death benefit. However, these policies do not require health underwriting like standalone long-term care insurance.
  • Medicaid spend-down through asset protection trusts – Accessing Medicaid benefits requires you to fall below asset and income limits. However, trusts can legally shield your assets and enable you to remain eligible for Medicaid. Eligibility for Medicaid is subject to a 60-month lookback period in Arizona, so you need to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer early to maximize your chances of success when the time comes.

A skilled attorney can help analyze your options and implement the optimal strategies based on your financial circumstances.

Long Term Care Costs

How an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help

Working with a knowledgeable lawyer provides immense value during long-term care planning. At Pennington Law, PLLC, we will:

  • Explain your options – The range of strategies for planning and paying for long-term care can seem endless. Our Arizona estate planning attorneys will advise on the paths available in and recommend those that best suit your needs. We will present the pros and cons of each so you can make informed decisions.
  • Customize documents to your situation – While there are standard templates for documents like living wills and powers of attorney, a lawyer can tailor these to address your specific medical needs, values, and preferences. They can also help you choose the most appropriate person to name as your healthcare proxy.
  • Provide objective advice – Emotions run high when planning for late-life care needs. An attorney can look at your situation objectively and make recommendations in your best interest. This outside perspective provides valuable insights you may otherwise overlook.
  • Stay updated on changing laws – Regulations affecting estate plans and long-term care can change. An attorney will monitor any legal shifts and update your plan accordingly to remain compliant with state and federal laws.
  • Connect you with other professionals – We will collaborate with financial planners, insurance agents, the Arizona Long-Term Care System (ALTCS), and other professionals to create a comprehensive long-term care plan that serves you well.
  • Offer support during difficult times – The lawyer you work with today can provide guidance and assistance to you or your family if a crisis arises and you need long-term care on short notice. A trusted advocate can ease stress and provide direction during an emergency.
Long Term Care Lawyer Benefits

Contact a Long-Term Care and Wealth Protection Planning Lawyer

Whether you still have many years to go before retirement or a chronic condition has already begun to limit your abilities, a long-term care planning attorney can help you now. Call Pennington Law, PLLC today or contact us online for a free initial consultation.