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How important is it to include long term care in an estate plan?

Most of our Oakland County readers would like to have a financial plan. But what does that mean, really? Does it just mean saving for retirement? Or how about budgeting household expenses and saving specifically for "splurge"-type expenditures like vacations? While these types of steps can absolutely make up part of an overarching financial plan, some people don't think to take care of what can be the most important parts -- long term planning and estate planning.

Anyone familiar with our previous posts probably has some idea of what estate planning consists of. Having the proper documents drawn up -- wills, trusts and powers of attorney -- are hugely important to protecting assets and composing a comprehensive estate plan. And while these are some of the most obvious bases to cover, many people are learning that the proper planning for their elderly years -- not just retirement years -- can be a bit more complicated and is often the most overlooked.

So what does a good long term plan encompass? A retirement plan may include a small, part-time job in a particular area of interest, but what happens when you live long enough that you aren't actually able to get to and from work anymore? What happens if your health deteriorates to the point where medical expenses are taking up more of your retirement funds than you had accounted for? A long term plan will take these questions into consideration, planning for the inclusion of government benefits, Medicare and long-term nursing home care.

Obviously, most Oakland County residents would like to think that they'll be able to spend their twilight years in good health, living out the retirement they always dreamed of. But just as a good, comprehensive estate plan is essential to peace of mind, so too is an estate plan that includes long term planning in the event things don't go as expected.

Source: US News & World Report, "Make Elder Care Part of Your Financial Plan," Scott Holsopple, July 23, 2012

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