Category: Veteran Affairs

Exploring Long-Term Care

The Huffington Post says that more than 40% of people over age 65 need care in a nursing home for some period of time. The article, “What is Long Term Care?”, quotes the National Institute of Health (NIH), which states that what’s termed long-term care (LTC) can—in reality—be a long time or a short time. Long-term care can be in an institution or at home, based on the patient’s specific situation and needs.

LTC is now a very broad term and has evolved into a term for the type of care required instead of the time period. The need for this care can be because of a sudden event like a fall, or it can develop gradually. Before someone reaches the point where total personal care is required for his or her activities of daily living (ADLs), other ancillary services might be necessary. There are adult day care and senior centers to help them socialize and keep active.

Even when elder care doesn’t mean admission to a facility, caregiving demands may make paid LTC with a home health aide a necessity. AARP found that more than 40 million Americans provided unpaid care to adults last year, with an average of 44. 7-27-20166 hours for spouses or partners. And 10 percent of those caregivers were elderly themselves—age 75 years or older.

Beyond an individual’s personal savings, long-term care insurance is available with many options and levels of coverage. It’s more affordable the earlier you sign on. LTC insurance will typically cover care not covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. It can guard your savings accounts from becoming depleted by increasing healthcare expenses, and premiums may be tax deductible. LTC insurance can also eliminate the burden on family members who would be providing this care.

An elder care and estate planning attorney can help with strategies to help fund this care. Government programs like Medicare and Medicaid should be explored—as well as any veteran’s benefits and Social Security. In light of the expense of nursing home care and Medicaid eligibility requirements, elder law attorneys can discuss spending down assets to qualify for Medicaid.

Reference: Huffington Post (June 8, 2016) “What is Long Term Care?”

Make Sure You Receive All of the Benefits for Serving Our Country

Members of the military have special estate planning needs, particularly when they're deployed. These families also have access to special benefits and resources, says Kiplinger's May 27, 2016 article, "Estate Planning for Military Families." Here's a rundown: 7-19-2016

Sign up for low-cost life insurance. This is critical if you have financial dependents—even more so if you're heading into combat. Active-duty members of the military can purchase low-cost term life insurance, called Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI). It costs just 7 cents per $1,000 of coverage per month—or $336 a year for the maximum $400,000—regardless of your age, health, or likelihood of being deployed. In addition, service members can also purchase $100,000 in coverage for their spouse for $60 a year if the spouse is under age 35. The coverage will cost more for older spouses.

Have your legal documents organized. You should create the legal documents such as a will (in which you'll designate a guardian for your minor children), a power of attorney, and a health-care proxy. The power of attorney can be used while you're deployed. It gives your spouse or another person you choose the authority to handle your affairs while you're on duty or out of the country.

Update beneficiary information. The beneficiary designations for your pension, life insurance, IRAs, and thrift savings plan take precedence over your will. Remember, if you designated a beneficiary when you first joined the service and haven't changed it since you got married, that original beneficiary could inherit your account. Update those designations with your spouse and review them when you have life changes like marriage, divorce, or the birth or adoption of a child.

Make survivor decisions for your military pension. If you qualify for a military pension, you'll need to think about whether to have your military retirement pay continue for your beneficiary after you pass away. You typically will pay 6.5% of the portion of the monthly pension payout you want your beneficiary to receive, which is deducted pretax from your retirement pay. If you're looking at this cost compared to the price of buying life insurance for your spouse, the policy would need to be permanent rather than term to be certain it would still be in effect when you die.

Utilize survivor benefits. One often overlooked benefit is the ability to roll over a military death gratuity or SGLI death benefit into an IRA even if it is greater than the $5,500 annual limit. While there are some restrictions, this and other rules can prove helpful to military families.

Reference: Kiplinger's (May 27, 2016) "Estate Planning for Military Families"