It is a fact that everyone will eventually age and suffer physical decline. While everyone ages in different ways and some people will suffer health problems or physical infirmities that others do not, no one knows for sure what will happen in the future. It is for this reason that long-term planning is so important. Long-term care can refer to many different things-residence in a nursing home, assistive support and other supports-but what is certain is that long-term care will come with certain and often significant costs.
One of the most commonly understood reasons for planning for the future is ensuring that there will be sufficient resources available to cover one's medical expenses. It is understood and even expected that medical expenses often increase with age, and these expenses can become a serious burden on both the individual needing the medical care and his or her family members. Although Medicaid planning is an important part of long term planning, it should not be the only part--especially with the frequent changes, both good and bad, to the Medicaid program.
When most people think of planning for their futures, they think about retirement savings or drafting a will. Many people overlook planning for long-term care because they misunderstand what long-term care actually refers to or underestimate how likely it is that they will need some form of long-term care. Overall, approximately 70% of people age 65 or older have a realistic expectation of requiring some form of long-term care in the future.
Planning for one's death or physical limitations and health problems is not generally regarded as a pleasant experience by most people. However, long term planning is critical for aging Michigans who want to ensure that their wishes are followed with regard to their medical care and end-of-life plans. In addition, long-term care planning is important to ensure that rising medical expenses and potential nursing home expenses do not unduly burden relatives and caregivers.
Many of our Michigan readers may think that all of their estate planning needs will be met once they have a will, a trust and the appropriate power of attorney forms. While these instruments are vital to a good, comprehensive estate plan, there is another aspect that needs to be considered - long-term planning for care in advanced age or poor health.
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.
The latter years of life, lovingly dubbed the "Golden Years," aren't always as easy as they should be. Unfortunately, many people reach these late-in-life years only to discover that a lack of long-term planning has left them unable to pay for the care they will need to combat failing health. While it is natural for one's health to deteriorate with age, for some people failing health is a more serious concern than for others. That is why planning ahead for necessities like long-term care should be considered vital to maintaining a good quality of life, not only for residents of Michigan, but for people all over the United States.
Michigan residents who are considering long-term planning may be interested in a recent report by the Wall Street Journal. The report highlights the fact that the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) is short on funds. This means that the group's retiree healthcare trust fund is in jeopardy, making the process of long-term planning for auto workers that much more important.