The Long Term Care Elephant

There’s been lots of discussion about long term care in recent years, and for good reason, as this is a very important and expensive issue especially when we consider the possibility that you will live a long time. You should review your own needs in this regard, but my emphasis here is not your care, but on your spouse’s needs. Here are the facts: as long as Medicare lasts in its current guise, it will pay for decent long term care for those who need it. But the catch is that “needing it” means that your joint assets have been spent down to the poverty level. That means that you – and only you – are responsible for the costs of your spouse’s care until the money’s nearly gone. That could leave you without adequate funds to support yourself, and could even push you toward the poverty line, whether you need care or not. Take note: existing Medicaid laws require most couples’ assets to be completely drained before paying for long term care. Given the current debt issues in the United States, it is likely these laws will get even tougher. Fortunately, you can deal with this issue by using insurance and some more advanced estate planning techniques. The time to plan is now, before the dice break the wrong way and before your retirement dreams are potentially shattered.

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