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Is long-term care an essential part of an estate plan?

Many Michigan readers may believe that estate planning involves simply planning for how assets will be distributed after they die. While that is a good start, it does not include everything. A comprehensive estate plan encompasses quite a bit more, including planning for the later years of a person's life and trying to anticipate the issues that may occur. That is why most estate plans include powers of attorney - documents which designate an appointed person to make financial or medical care decisions, should the planner become incapacitated. This type of scenario does not happen to everyone, but almost everyone does get older and has medical issues that need to be addressed.

Some people may not think that planning for old age and the medical care that will be associated with it is something to include in an estate plan, but they are mistaken. Long term planning is becoming an increasingly common topic when a person is deciding on the options they would like to include in an estate plan.

According to a recent article, a study has calculated a figure of what it could cost to care for an elderly family member who does not plan ahead for long-term care. The study determined that, on average, care for an elderly family member costs approximately $11,000 per year. For most Michigan residents, this is an incredibly large sum.

So how does someone plan for the medical expenses they may - or may not - have to deal with later in life? One of the more popular options these days is a long-term care insurance policy. This type of policy can help cover most, if not all, of the expenses a careful estate planner could face if they were to ever end up in a situation where they may need long-term nursing home care. Anyone who is concerned with theirs and their family's financial future should understand their options for long-term planning.

Source: LifeHealthPRO, "The cost of not planning for long-term care," Maria Wood, Oct. 21, 2013

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