Sunday, 01 January 2012 00:00

Do You Love Your Family? Most Important New Year’s Resolution

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This year, instead of settling on a resolution solely aimed at self-improvement, resolve to do something to benefit everyone you love.

Many people avoid discussions about long-term care; the unfortunate news is that long-term care is an inevitable necessity for many Americans.  Proper planning can protect assets from nursing home creditors, allowing Americans from all walks of life to legally and ethically qualify for Medicaid and Veterans benefits, passing on an inheritance if they so choose, and enjoy the standard of living and quality of life they prefer.  An experienced elder law attorney should be your first point of contact.

The reality is that the majority of Americans make no plans for long-term care. Not only does this lack of planning affect older Americans, but it also often has an adverse effect on the older person’s family, with sacrifices made in time, money, and family lifestyles.

The stresses of being a caregiver for an older parent often results in a deterioration of the caregiver’s own physical and emotional health. Because of changing demographics and improved health care, the current generation – more than ever – needs to actively plan for long-term care.

According to most estimates, more than 60% of Americans will need long-term care at some point in their lives.  Consider the following long-term care statistics:

• About 70% of Americans who live to age 65 will need long-term care at some time in their lives, over 40% in a nursing home; and

• The median net worth of the average 65 year-old is $232,000. If you live in Northern Virginia, the average cost of a private nursing home room in 2010 was nearly $100,000.

If planning is engaged in soon enough, assets can be 100% protected from nursing home creditors, lawsuits, and general creditors.  Even if someone is already in a nursing home paying the monthly bill, their remaining assets can be protected

There are three primary ways to plan in advance for how to pay for long-term care:

1. Build up your income and life savings in order to be able to self-fund your future care needs,

2. Protect your assets by purchasing long-term care insurance, or,

3. Protect your assets by using an asset protection trust designed to legally protect your assets and allow you to qualify for Medicaid, the governmental program that pays for about 70% of people living in nursing homes.

For some families, a fourth way to pay for long-term care is a type of Veteran’s pension benefit called “Aid & Attendance.”

The most important thing you can do is to act now. You may have limited resources in the future or health problems that will prevent you from taking care of the things you can easily take care of today.

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