Talk openly to your adult children about your plans for the future

For many boomers and seniors, talking about plans for their later years with their children is not a hot agenda item. But it should be.

Planning for long-term care represents a carefully thought out decision to be made with the help of an extended care professional. You need information so you can make educated decisions about the care you may need – and Your LTC Resource is a great place to get the facts for yourself and help with your future health needs.

Just as you need that important information, your adult children do, too.  Make time to sit down with your adult children and honestly discuss your preferences and your decisions. Ed & I are fully ready to help you discuss the many options for Long and Short-Term Care (and the many new hybrid plans) available to you. That talk with your kids? It’s something we’ve always recommended.

Recently, we ran across a down-to-earth guide called, “The Other Talk; A Guider to Talking with Your Adult Children About the Rest of Your Life.” The guide provides tips for honest discussions about such tough topics as:

  •  Who do you want to help manage your finances, and how will you budget for unknown needs?
  •  If you need assisted living, where do you want to live?
  •  Where can your children find the documents and information they’ll need to help?
  • What type of medical treatments do you want — and not want?
  •  Who will advocate for your needs?

It’s good, and very reasonably priced (available in paperback for $9 from Amazon, and on Kindle for $8.55). Click HERE for a link for more information on this book.

Education, information and frank, open talks. All three are the keys to making smart decisions, and communicating honestly with your family.   ~ Ed & Elise

 

Tax and the Long-Term Care insurance client

When we work with clients to educate them about the many Long-Term Care health insurance options available, sometimes Ed and I are asked whether LTC expenses, including Long Term Care insurance premiums, are tax deductible.

Understand, planning for long-term care involves a set of carefully thought out decisions, decisions best made with the guidance of an a professional. You need as much information as possible, so you can make educated choices, and it’s natural for you to want to know about tax deductibility as well.

While Ed and I do not offer tax advice (best to check with your own tax adviser for specifics in your own situation), we can give you a general idea of how long term care premiums relate to federal income tax.

  • Tax-qualified LTC insurance premiums are considered a medical expense.
  • Individuals who itemize tax deductions can treat premiums paid for tax-qualified long-term care insurance for themselves, their spouse or any tax dependents (such as parents) as a personal medical expense.
  • The yearly maximum deductible amount for each individual depends on the insured’s attained age at the close of the taxable year. The LTCi premium that exceeds the eligible amount not included as a medical expense.
  • For 2013, for taxpayers age 40 or under, the limit is $360. For those over 40 but under 50, $680. For those more than 50 but less than 60, it’s $1,360, and for those over 60 but under 70, it’s $3,640. For those more than 70, the deductible limit is $4,550.

There are many erroneous ideas about which long-term care expenses can be deducted and which cannot, and the best person to help you comply with the tax regulations is a qualified CPA.

However, as qualified LTC professionals, we wanted to give you a start, and we hope this helps. Have a question we didn’t cover? Link on the blue highlighted words or email us! We’re always happy to help you get the information you need.

~ Elise

Indy LTC professionals talk about preserving important memories

As Indianapolis-area extended care professionals and Long-Term Care specialists, Ed and I work to help our clients preserve the assets they’ve worked so hard to accumulate during their lifetimes.

At Long Term Care Resources, we often help folks better understand the many choices available to them on Long-Term Care plans, effectively protecting their future.

We also like the idea many of our estate planning colleagues now recommend, that of preserving financial data – as well as personal data, such as photos and stories from your childhood. In fact, recently, we found some new websites set up especially to enable easier “memory preservation.”

Here are some great ways to preserve memories and important financial documents for you and your family:

Store important or interesting documents, photos, files, and videos on sites like Dropbox. This cloud-based service is a safe place where your entries can be accessed and shared no matter where you are, via cloud servers. Depending on the service you select, from 2 to 10 gigabytes of material can be stored and accessed, free of charge.

Have a story or two to tell? Consider ‘blogging’ about your life at blogger.com. Write about your memories and add photos or videos to your posts using this free service. Family members and friends can add comments as well. Your blog can be password-protected so that only friends and family have access to it.

Free sites like flickr can store thousands of photos for you. You decide whether the photos are private or public, and you allow friends and family viewing privileges.

Sure, we’re extended care professionals serving Indianapolis, Indiana and the surrounding areas, but Ed and I are always looking to help our clients find to make their futures more productive, more protected, and more informed. We love the idea of helping folks like you save important documents — and precious memories — for future generations!

My number one job is to find the best extended care program for you

Very true words, and I take them seriously. Even if it means I don’t get your business.

My father always said, “Always do what’s in the best interest for your client,” and I’ve never strayed from that. Because when you work with people in planning for their future, you want to be sure you are providing them with a good service they need at a price they can afford.

Case in point:  Last week I visited with a husband and wife who had both recently retired. They had no savings, were in reasonably good health, but were having trouble consistently paying their mortgage. They wanted to buy a Long-Term Care policy.

The more I talked with them, the more I was sure that Long-Term Care was not right for them. They were already strained paying their mortgage. The last thing they needed was to add another bill to their budget.

I suggested that a better route for their situation might be to get information on a reverse mortgage, since they did have equity in their home. I put them in touch with someone I knew would give them the information they needed to make a good decision.

They called me back to thank me and suggested that now that they had money in the bank, they could invest in Long-Term Care. I had to smile. I was pleased they believed so strongly in the program and in my services, but once again, I said that I didn’t feel Long-Term Care was in their best interest right now.

Would your agent have made that decision? My responsibility and commitment as a Long-Term Care planning specialist is to help navigate through the many choices available for clients, and help them choose what is best for them — even if it means I don’t sell them a policy.

I am always happy to talk to new potential customers and give them the facts about Long-Term Care and other extended care programs. And – I’m always ready to say no, if what I offer isn’t in their best interests. I think that’s the only way to go… and my father, I’m sure, would agree.          ~ Elise

Why I’m proud to have Dave Ramsey’s endorsement as a Long-Term Care Professional

As many of you may know, Dave Ramsey is personal money management expert, national radio talk show host and New York Times bestselling author. I, like many of you, am a big fan of his. Having read his best-selling books, “Complete Guide to Money” and “Financial Peace Revisited,” I believe his financial advice is tough, straightforward and most of all — reliable.

I am humbled and most appreciative that Dave Ramsey has endorsed me as his Indianapolis-area provider for Long-Term Care Insurance. It’s not something I take lightly.

I earned the endorsement the hard way. Not only I am certified in long-term care, but I’ve been a top-performing insurance and financial services provider in Indiana and Kentucky for almost 30 years now, first beside my father, and now, with my husband Ed.

Early on, I adopted my father’s saying, “Always do what is in the best interest of your client.”  It’s a mantra of which I know Dave would approve.

Like Ramsey, I believe in a straightforward approach in helping people understand the practical and affordable financial solutions for extended care needs. I also believe that education is everyone’s biggest challenge in understanding the ins and outs of Long-Term Care Health Insurance.

And that’s why I’m in this business — to help you understand what is available to you so you can make the right choices to fit your needs. Together, we can protect your financial future with the Long-Term Care solutions that work best for you.              ~ Elise

How affordable are senior home options?

If you suddenly needed in-home care or nursing home care, could you afford it? Or would your life savings be depleted in the face of potentially significant Long-Term Care costs?

Remember that most health insurance plans do not cover long term care. Medicare was not designed to cover custodial care – which is what many people will need. Even more importantly, Medicaid doesn’t cover care until most of your assets are depleted.

Senior housing options are many, and plenty expensive. Here’s what they cost:

  • Continuing care (CCRC) communities:  According to SeniorHomes.com, incoming residents pay a one-time, upfront entrance fee, a buy-in or ownership fee, plus monthly fees. Price ranges are from $20k – 200k per year depending on the community. Seniors join these communities when they are relatively active and live independently in apartments, then gradually move into on-site assisted-living or nursing home facilities.
  • Assisted living communities: According to a survey conducted by MetLife, the national average for assisted living base rates was $3,550 per month in 2012. Licensed and regulated by the state, these communities are intended for those who need some help with the activities of daily living such as dressing, eating or bathing, but are not totally disabled. Residents usually buy or rent rooms or apartments.
  • ECHO (Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity) housing: According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a 500 square foot one-bedroom unit installed, is around $25,000. These units are small, inexpensive prefab homes that can be leased or purchased and placed on the property of relatives or caregivers.
  • Nursing homes: According to a MetLife Market Survey, the average cost in 2009 of a private bed in a nursing home facility was $219 per day, or over $79,000 per year. For those patients who are in a semi-private room, the average cost is $191 per day, or about $70,000 annually. Nursing homes focus on individuals who are disabled, acutely ill or need help with many activities of daily living.
  • Help from outside or live-in caregivers: According to Caregivers.com, live-in caregivers cost from $700 to $3000 a week. Costs vary widely, depending on what part of the country you live in and what the living accommodations are.

Arm yourself with the facts to protect your dignity, your savings, and your freedom to make your own choices. I can help.               ~ Elise

How will the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchange affect you?

Like you, I’m interested in learning as much as possible about new regulations and legislation involving the Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare.’

I’ve done some research, and here is what I know, so far. Even though this program has nothing to do with Long-Term Care, I’m sharing it with you to help answer some of your questions and clear up any confusion over what you may have heard.

Background: As of January 1, 2014, every individual and all employers with fewer than 50 employers will have to have federally administered healthcare. This is a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The intent of Healthcare Exchanges is to provide everyone with affordable health insurance. States that opt out of the federal program can set up their own state run health care.  Indiana has not opted out and will be using the federal program.

So what are these healthcare exchanges you may be hearing about? The government has set up a Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace. The Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace is a new application to use to find health coverage for diverse budgetary and personal needs. Small businesses and individuals can use the Health Insurance Marketplace to fill out an application and find out if you can lower costs on your monthly premiums for private insurance plans.

There will be a web site, a phone number to call, and an email to get information about what health insurance program (there are many to choose from) will serve your needs best. (To learn more on ongoing developments, click HERE for updates.)

When does enrollment begin? Open enrollment starts October 1, 2013. Coverage starts January 1, 2014. 

What about costs?  The Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace will help you determine if you qualify for lower out-of-pocket costs. It will also let individuals know if they qualify for free or low-cost coverage available through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

There are many, many more details to understand – and I’m all about learning as much as possible to help protect my clients. If I can help you answer a question or better understand the new system – even though it doesn’t directly relate to Long-Term Care, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.                  ~ Elise

Extended care professional talks about Living Wills

How is a living will different from a simple will? That’s something you need to know for sure.

A living will is nothing like a will. A last will and testament directs your property wishes after death; a living will expresses how you will be treated and what life saving and prolonging methods you prefer, if and when you can’t direct them yourself.

In Indiana, a Living Will allows “competent individuals” (over age 18) with the opportunity to make advance medical treatment directives for themselves. At its core, a living will stipulates what you want and do not want, if you are terminally ill. Your healthcare power of attorney (POA) is someone you designate to speak for you if and when you cannot. That person will be empowered to speak with medical staff and discuss your condition.

Some of the things a Living Will can provide for are life-prolonging measures you choose when recovery is not possible, including:

  • Artificial respirators
  • Feeding tubes
  • Surgeries
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

Most people need both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney, just as most people will require an extended care health insurance plan for their later years. Both must be carefully thought out, and talked about with a professional.

Be sure you include Long-Term Care planning in your conversations about preparing a will and a living will. If you have a question about what type of plan would be best for you, let’s talk. As an extended care professional for almost 30 years, I can help you find out the facts and understand your choices.

~ Elise

Won’t Medicaid or Medicare protect my future health?

The two names look and sound very similar. That’s confusing and unfortunate, because the two programs exist for very different reasons. But can you – and should you – depend on either to protect and provide for your future health? Let’s take a look:

Medicare is a government program that provides limited health insurance for people 65 or older, and those younger than 65 with certain disabilities. Eligibility for Medicare is not tied to financial need. It is an entitlement program paid for through Social Security taxes.

Medicaid provides extremely basic health coverage for low-income, financially dependent people. You have to qualify to receive it. Although Federal laws provide the basic outline for Medicaid, it is administered differently in every state.

Both Medicare and Medicaid have undergone changes recently, and with the advent of the Affordable Health Care Act, there will undoubtedly be more changes in the future.

If you believe Medicare will take care of you in your old age, think again. Medicare is for medical purposes. Yes, Medicare covers everyone, but we can’t rely solely on it. Medicare does NOT pay for Long-Term Care. Medicare and a supplement cover medical care, not any type of custodial care. And Medicaid comes into the LTC picture only for the impoverished.

No – it’s up to us. Up to you. Decide what is important to you and together we can map out a future plan to meet ALL your needs.

Ed and I work to help our clients keep their assets protected for whatever their future medical care needs may be. No matter what government program changes may occur, or what medical or financial challenges lay ahead, there is nothing that beats knowing you’ve planned carefully and knowledgeably for all possibilities. 

Planning helps our clients rest easier. Ed and I rest easier too, knowing their best interests are being protected.                ~ Elise