The financial costs and burdens of aging impact all Americans. However, the impact on rural America (farmers and ranchers) can be devastating since much of a farmer’s estate is tied up in the value of land. Many people wish to leave their land and other personal property, cash and investments to their heirs. The desire is to keep it in the family. To protect the heirs’ inheritance from potentially devastating costs of Long Term Health Care an affordable plan must be in place prior to retirement or change in health.
The University of Nebraska Center of Rural Affairs says Long Term Care for America’s aging population is an important consideration in estate and business transition planning. Many have become increasingly aware how easily the cost of Long Term Care can wipe out a lifetime of savings or hamper the transfer of a family farm, ranch or business to future generations.
What is the risk of needing some type of extended health care? High. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says if you reach the age of 65 you have a 70% chance of needing some type of Long Term Care service before you die. With advances in medical science we live longer, we survive health events and accidents. This all leads to more aging issues in addition to many health events which cause the need for help with activities of daily living or supervision due to memory problems.
Part of any responsible retirement and legacy plan is to provide for the financial costs and burdens that Long Term Care places on loved ones. Long term Care Insurance is an affordable way to ease the burden and help preserve the farm or range for generations to come.
“I hear from farm families from all over the country. This is a key concern. The costs of care can create liquidation of assets. Too many farmers have seen this happen to fellow farmers and they want to make sure the land stays in the family. For many, Long Term Care insurance will protect their farm and other assets and plans are very affordable if they plan early when their health is better,” said Matt McCann a nationally recognized expert in Long Term Care Planning.
One of the biggest threats to a family legacy is catastrophic end-of-life costs. Cost of care can vary depending where in the country a person lives. Most Long Term Care is not in nursing homes although nursing homes are the most expensive. LTC policies will pay for care in all settings including one’s own home.
For example, in Iowa an average skilled nursing home will run about $6100 a month according to the annual Genworth Financial survey. Monthly care at home averages about $4300 a month with assisted living facilities running around $3600. However, costs in Ohio will be more. A Long Term Care specialist can discuss the cost of care in your area.
The issue of burden on family is another consideration. Without Long Term Care insurance, a spouse or daughter may become the primary caregiver, at least at first. Spouses who are the default primary caregiver for a partner often see a decline in their own health. Daughters or daughters-in-law have their own families and responsibilities. In some cases, they may not even live close by.
Since health insurance and Medicare (including Medicare supplements) will pay only for a very small amount of skilled care and only if you are improving, much of the cost of Long Term Care is placed on you.
There are three types of LTC plans available. Traditional tax-qualified plans provide a monthly or daily benefit once you qualify for benefits. Generally, you start with a pool of money and both the monthly benefit and benefit pool are subject to inflation increases in those benefits. In many states you have additional “partnership” benefits which provide dollar-for-dollar asset protection in the event you spend through your LTC policy money.
Hybrid plans are also available. These are usually single premium life insurance policies or annuities with a rider for Long Term Care. Be careful, some of them are just an advance of death benefit or will only provide benefits for critical illness not traditional Long Term Care. A LTC specialist can discuss the differences.
Short-Term plans are also available. These provide a year of extended care. While not a complete solution, for some people with health issues this might be an appropriate option.
“One of the features that makes these products extremely attractive is the ability to select a 0-day Elimination Period (EP),” said Jesse Slome, executive director for the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). “Most traditional LTC insurance policies require that a doctor certify a need for care lasting longer than 90 days and have a 90-day wait period for benefits. With a 0-day EP period the policyholder accesses policy benefits early on when they need care.”
The assets you have accumulated throughout your working life including your land you own your farm will go to one of two purposes, your lifestyle or your legacy. It’s up to you to decide how much is dedicated to each purpose. You are in control. The one thing that will get in the way is extended healthcare. The time to safeguard your property and assets should happen well ahead of your retirement. The peace-of-mind it will create is priceless.