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Planning may stop long-term care costs from erasing life savings

According to the National Health Policy Forum, the annual cost of nursing home care in 2012 was between $81,000 and $90,000. Assisted living facilities cost an average of $42,000. Most retired Americans, including those in Texas, cannot afford to finance such high costs of long-term care. In fact, it is regularly reported that many retired persons have had their relatively modest life savings eaten up by long-term care costs.

That is particularly tragic because one of the implied promises of a productive, hard-working life in this country is that a person will be able to leave the fruits of his or her labor to family and loved ones. The problem, of course, is part and parcel of the massive economic problems associated with escalating health care costs. Fortunately, there are legal planning tools that can help to greatly lessen the impact of such financial burdens.

It requires a joint effort with a qualified elder law attorney. The process involves participating in long-term care planning with the attorney to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses likely future needs with sufficient resources and preparatory actions. If a person or married couple are in the minority of Americans who extraordinarily wealthy, long-term care planning will be considerably easier to carry out and may even be met by simply establishing cash resources to address potential needs.

For those who are in more typical income brackets, however, long-term care planning may be a more painful process that nonetheless will bring great rewards in the long run. With the help of an experienced elder law attorney, steps can be taken to assure that one's life savings and home can pass to one's family and loved ones. The main requirement is that a person act early enough to get these procedures into place. In some cases, Texas or federal law may require a 'look-back' period of a certain number of years before an asset will be fully free of outside interference, making it even more important that a person act in a timely manner.

Source: dispatch.com, "Costs of long-term care can sap your life savings", Michele Parente, Dec. 6, 2015

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