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Waiting to get long-term care insurance could cost you

Here's a big number to consider: $84,000. That was the annual median cost of having a room in a private nursing home in 2012. The figure represents an 8-percent increase in five years. It also means that planning for long-term care should start now and not later. The cost of care is steadily rising.

Dallas residents who are at or approaching 50 years old do have options for funding future care, so let's consider some.

Not everyone opts to purchase long-term care insurance, but it certainly has its benefits. And if you do take this route, it is a good idea to begin paying in now rather than waiting another 20 or 30 years.

If you purchase long-term care insurance when you're, say, 55, you'll ultimately end up paying less for your benefits than if you wait until you're 70 to buy the policy. The premiums you'll pay when you're 55 will be lower than the ones you would pay at 70, and yet if you start paying sooner, your benefits will be greater.

Another thing to consider is that long-term care insurers can decide not to cover you if your health isn't good or you have a pre-existing condition. That means people shouldn't wait for a diagnosis to begin paying into long-term care insurance.

The reality is that benefits from government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are not likely to cover the rising cost of long-term care. Benefits from government programs can be coordinated in a comprehensive estate plan, but other options such as 401(k)s, IRAs, charitable trusts and long-term care insurance are also available.

Texans who are considering these and other estate-planning issues may want to consult with an elder law attorney with experience in strategizing long-term care plans.

Source: Market Watch, "5 reasons to buy long-term care insurance now," Anisha Sekar, Sept. 11, 2013

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