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Address long-term care needs in estate planning

Many Texas residents and others across the nation are caring for elderly parents. A frequent topic is likely to be the difficulties experienced in finding quality care at an affordable cost. The reality is that everyone is aging and if life expectancies continue to increase, more people will need long-term care, not only for parents, but for themselves.

As efforts are underway to replace the Affordable Care Act, a close watch is on any new legislation proposed. Unfortunately, early proposals do not adequately improve the systems for caregiving support and long-term care. Families hope that actions will be taken to help remedy a seemingly broken process.

Loved ones must typically bear the burden of paying for long-term care. Not only are there medical expenses, there are also opportunity costs involved. The opportunity cost is an estimate of the money that can't be earned because someone is a caregiver. Researchers from Rand estimate that more than 30 billion hours a year are spent on informal elder care.

The formal system is troubled as well. Insurance premiums for long-term care is too expensive for most people. Medicare does not provide much coverage for these expenses. While Medicaid programs provide options, individuals must essentially be at a poverty level before benefits start.

Given the uncertainty of funding options available, Texas residents need to include long-term care in their estate planning process. An elder law attorney can help someone evaluate all the options available and design a plan best suited to his or her needs. An experienced lawyer can assist clients with the responsibility of adequately protecting their families' financial future.

Source: startribune.com, "Financial planning needs to include long-term care needs", Chris Farrell, July 1, 2017

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