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

 

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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

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

Putting the ‘gold’ in golden years

If you were born between 1944 and 1964, you are a Boomer, and are well aware of how important it is to save for your retirement. Today, the responsibility for retirement saving has shifted from employers to employees, and Social Security provides only a base level of income. Today, it’s up to you to put the “gold” in your “golden years.”

Many Long-Term Care companies survey trends in the marketplace. Among them, Genworth, Inc. did a Financial Reality Check Survey in 2011. 73% of people answering the survey said that they “would not know what to do if they received a call today letting them know that a family member needed long term care.”

The survey also reveals that people value their independence over comfort. For example, did you know that:

  • 8% say they would turn to family for financial support in retirement
  • 11% would move in with family to ensure a comfortable retirement
  • People are 5 times more worried about being a burden than dying, and
  • 78% say they would find it “helpful to talk with a financial professional or specialist about long term care planning” but only 16% have actually had the conversation.*

While it’s tempting to look for the proverbial “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow and to think or talk about more pleasant things, we all age and most of us end up needing help in some shape or form. It’s not difficult to keep big or small issues from overtaking the golden years! Being prepared with informed decisions based on reviewing long term care protection can mean you’re “gold to go!”

*Genworth, Inc. April 2011 Cost of Care/Financial Reality Check Survey  ~Elise

How to avoid spending your last days in a nursing home

One sentence I’ve yet to have a potential client say is, “When I’m old, I hope to live my last days in a nursing home.”

I hear you loud and clear – that’s not your preference.

As the co-owner of YourLTCresources.net, I’m an extended care professional, and have been for the better part of the past 30 years. Helping you provide for yourself and your family in the ways you want is the best part of my job.

I know nursing home living is not part of your plan, so let’s map out a health care insurance plan that factors in your ideas, your finances, and your family. If you are approaching your 50s, right now is a great time to make key decisions while you are still vital and healthy, and make your preferences known.

I often refer to myself as a “tour guide” in the labyrinth of Long-Term and Short-Term Health Care Insurance options. Navigating that path on behalf of my clients is what I do best. And the best news I have for you is, you have a LOT of choices!

When we sit down to talk, it’s you that will be telling me what’s important to you, and how you want to live out your life. What I do is provide you with options that work with your ideas and your budget. Together we can plan for every health contingency.

You’ve worked hard to set up your life the way you want it to be. Let me help you align your future health and well being in the same way.

~ Elise

What boomers can do about retirement housing options, post market downturn

The May issue of Financial Planning magazine included a great article called Elder Housing Options. As the co-owner of YourLTCresources.net, I thought the article was well-researched, providing all types of data about those of us in middle age, quickly approaching retirement-decision age. As boomers know well, the past several years have not been financially kind to them.

As Financial Planning states, “For boomers, the housing market downturn couldn’t have come at a worse time. A large percentage (of boomers) no longer have the means to buy into appropriate senior-living facilities as they age.”

According to the Federal Reserve, the overall value of real estate owned by U.S. households fell to $17.65 trillion in 2012 from $22.7 trillion in 2006.

“And much of that decline hit boomers the hardest,” said Financial Planning magazine author June Fletcher, “since most were in their peak earning years when the financial meltdown occurred and were living in the largest homes they would ever own.”

Financial Planning magazine recommends doing what is possible now to stretch your retirement housing dollars, for instance:

  • Invest your portfolio more aggressively
  • Lower your taxes (possibly by moving to a state with lower or no state income taxes)
  • Remodel your home to make it more senior-friendly
  • Consider an ECHO home (temporary prefab units on a relative’s property)
  • Get a reverse mortgage (borrowing against the equity of your home)

Investing wisely and downsizing are good ideas. Another sound financial piece of wisdom is to think ahead and prepare for your future now, while you are healthy.

Need information and resources to make informed educated decisions about your future? That’s my specialty and my passion. I can help you learn what Long-Term Care Health Insurance, Critical Care and Short-Term Care Insurance can do to help you protect your financial future.                             ~ Elise

A painful lesson on adding (financial) insult to (health) injury

When I read Christine’s story (click HERE to read), my heart ached for her. The co-founder of the business “The Parent Care Solution,” Christine and her husband Dan created their company together after caring for Dan’s father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though Christine and Dan, both in their 50s, had worked with dozens of couples who were under-insured and struggling to provide healthcare for an ill spouse, they had not yet invested in Long-Term Care Health Insurance for themselves. As many do, they thought they were too young for any devastating health problems.

Unfortunately, they were wrong. Dan was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 55  and died just 13 months later. After Dan was diagnosed, he could not buy Long-Term or Short-Term Health Insurance. And as the owners of a small business, Christine and Dan were under-insured with their health insurance. Thirteen months of surgeries, chemotherapy, and hospital stays took their toll not only emotionally on the two, but also financially.

As Christine says, I became painfully aware of how important it is to have a plan during such an emotionally trying time… The longer you wait, the fewer choices you will have and the more it will cost you, emotionally as well as monetarily.”

Nothing could have eased the terrible pain and emotional suffering of this couple. But when it came to financial pain, financial health care planning could have made a big difference. The lesson Christine learned the hard way could be acted upon by you early enough to make a difference in your life and that of your spouse.

It’s just too easy to postpone talking about difficult matters. As the owner of YourLTCresources, I consider it is my personal passion to guide the “Christines and Dans” of this world with the information and resources they need to make informed, educated decisions about their future. I hope you’ll contact me to learn about what Long-Term Care Health Insurance, Critical Care and Short-Term Health Care Insurance can do for you.                                                      ~ Elise

Your health care is a lot to ask of your children

70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will need Long-Term care at some point, but few are prepared to pay for it, according to a new report by the SCAN Foundation on the State of Long-Term Care Financing. The report also finds that families bear a huge part of the burden, providing $450 billion in unpaid care-giving and over $63 billion in out of pocket costs.

No matter how close you are to your children, that’s a lot to ask of them. Your family may be an exception, but the fact is that families are very different now than they were a generation or two ago. Parents remarry. Sometimes more than once. Today’s adult children may have several “parent-figures.” And today’s young adults are moving farther away, and moving more often.

As a step-parent myself, I understand today’s families are complicated. Those approaching retirement assume that they will be able to rely on government support or their immediate family to provide for their care in the future, but that is no longer true. And, according to a 2010 Harris Interactive survey conducted by Age Wave, “(Seniors) are generally more afraid of burdening their family than dying.”

Long-Term Care Insurance helps mitigate some of that family complication by transferring the financial and care risk to a fixed, pre-determined place – your insurance plan. With a well-thought-out retirement plan and Long-Term Health Care Insurance, you won’t need to worry about your future care – and neither will your children..

I know from years in the financial and insurance industry that knowledge is power. I would add to that, “Risk is risk.”

Take it upon yourself to make an informed health care decision and complete a written, insured plan. Your children will thank you.

~ Elise