People are living longer than they ever have before, and considering the ongoing advances in medical science it would be logical to expect lifespans to continually grow. So planning for the distribution of your assets to your loved ones after you pass away is one thing, and making financial plans for your active retirement years is another. But there may well be a stretch of time in between when you are not capable of taking care of all of your own affairs, and this is something that needs to be planned for as well.
The statistics surrounding the subject tell the tale quite well. People are living longer and longer, with the oldest old being the most rapidly growing segment of United States population. Americans are becoming more aware of how their actions impact their health, and medical science is always advancing so it would be logical to expect lifespans to continue to increase. However, this longevity requires an added layer of planning from an elder law perspective.
As you reach an advanced age the possibility of incapacity becomes greater. Many people are not aware of the fact that Alzheimer’s disease strikes four of every 10 people once they reach the age of 85. Alzheimer’s causes dementia, and as a result many sufferers are not capable of making sound medical and financial decisions. And of course Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of incapacity, so when you look at these numbers it becomes clear that incapacity planning is important.
Another thing to consider is the high cost of long-term care. The United States Department of Health and Human Services says that 70% of seniors will someday need some form of long-term care. The average length of stay for those who enter a nursing home is 2- 1/2 years, and in 2010 one year in such a facility cost an average of over $83,000. Many people will have to do some careful advance planning to be prepared to meet these costs.
One thing leads to another and all the forms of planning that are necessary to comprehensively address the latter stages of your life are interconnected. The best way to proceed is to arrange for a consultation with an elder law attorney who will assist you as you map out a holistic plan that leaves you prepared for all the eventualities of aging.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.