It may not be the most pleasant thought, but there is a significant chance that you may need long-term care during your final years. As lifespans have increased over the past decades, so has the likelihood that the average American adult will need assistance to maintain their quality of life during their golden years.
One of the best gifts you can give your future self is to prepare for these potential needs in advance. You can accomplish this through a comprehensive estate plan. Below, we discuss why the need for care has increased and ways to prepare for any eventual care needs during the estate planning process.
The Rise of Long-Term Care Needs
Long-term care is an umbrella term that refers to many things. It may be as simple as having someone come by to do chores you can no longer manage or as complex as moving to a nursing home with specific medical professionals on staff. As long as a person’s need for care is ongoing for more than a few months, it is considered a long-term need. The need for all forms of long-term care is on the rise nationwide.
The most obvious reason is that people are simply living longer. As people age, a natural consequence is that specific tasks become more difficult. Aging often leads to health concerns like arthritis that can limit mobility, making tasks like maintaining a yard, cleaning a kitchen, or even getting dressed more difficult. Older adults with these issues benefit from receiving dedicated care to help them maintain their quality of life.
Other issues are also linked to aging. For instance, people with memory problems or dementia may not be able to make their own decisions or safely care for themselves. Similarly, lifelong health problems like heart conditions or diabetes may worsen with age, requiring more constant monitoring and treatment to ensure they do not develop life-threatening complications. For all these reasons, it is more likely than ever that you may need ongoing help once you are older.
How to Plan for Long-Term Care
Regardless of the type of ongoing care you may need in the future, you can prepare for it today. Estate planning is the process of developing documents that will ensure your wishes are respected, both after your passing and if you become incapacitated. You can use your estate plan to generate the following documents to ensure you receive the care you want and that your assets are protected.
Draft an Advanced Health Care Directive
An advanced health care directive is the term used by the state of California to refer to what is commonly known as a living will. In your advanced health care directive, you can explain the type of care you would prefer to receive in different circumstances. This may include specifying whether you want to be placed on a ventilator, what kind of medications and lifesaving treatment you do or do not want to receive, and other medical details if you cannot make your own decisions.
Assign a Power of Attorney
Power of attorney documents let you name your agent or attorney in fact for financial or medical matters. Your agent with the financial power of attorney will have the right to manage your assets if you are incapacitated. Meanwhile, your medical agent will be allowed to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in similar circumstances.
Create a Trust
Trusts allow you to protect your assets and ensure they are granted to the correct recipients. With appropriate legal guidance, you can create a trust that will protect your most important assets if you require long-term care and cannot manage them yourself. The person you name as a trustee will be responsible for ensuring the assets are handled according to your wishes.
Prepare Your Estate Plan With Expert Guidance
It is best to prepare for the potential need for long-term care long before it is necessary. The expert attorneys at The Dayton Law Firm, P.C., can create an estate plan that will protect you, your family, and your property if you are unable to make decisions or need ongoing care. You can learn more about the benefits of an estate plan for long-term care and how we can assist you with drafting the necessary documents by scheduling your consultation today.