Nearly two-thirds of Americans are woefully unprepared for retirement. From Millenials to Baby Boomers, all generations of Americans report high rates of unreadiness for aging and the life changes that come with it.
This lack of preparedness is costly physically, personally, and financially. Keep reading now to learn how elder care plans can help and when you should start creating them.
What Are Elder Care Plans?
Elder care plans are legal arrangements that individuals and families make to protect themselves and their assets as they age. These plans can take several forms.
- Financial planning
- Medical planning
- Family care plans
Each type of plan plays a distinct and important role in seniors’ ability to age confidently, gracefully, and securely.
The financial aspect of long term care planning involves creating legal documents such as wills and trusts. Having a financial plan is essential.
Proper estate planning protects families from lengthy probate struggles and ensures that the right people are provided with authority and assets when seniors become unable to handle their estates themselves.
Most Americans vastly underestimate the costs of medical care in retirement. Seniors and their families also routinely struggle to understand the complex rules governing assets and governmental assistance in medical care. Elder care plans help families sort out these complications in advance so that they can be prepared if and when medical care is needed.
Family Care Plans
Seniors are an essential part of their families and communities. When their health begins to fail, their children, grandchildren and other family members are directly affected. This is particularly true in situations where seniors are:
- Caregivers to children or special needs individuals
- Sharing homes with family members
- Significant contributors to household income
Elder law experts can help families craft plans that ensure everyone is taken care of when seniors’ health starts to suffer.
When Should You Create Elder Care Plans?
Perhaps you are already aware of the importance of elder care plans, but uncertain about when you need to invest in such plans. This confusion is common.
It stems in part from the fact that there is no single universal age at which individuals should invest in an elder care plan. Individual need for such plans can vary. Foruntately, deciding when you need to get started on long term care planning essentials doesn’t have to be difficult.
On average, Americans retire at around 63 years of age. By the time they reach 65, more than 60 percent of Americans are reliant on Social Security for the majority of their income. Whenever possible, it is wise to seek out a legal professional to serve as your long term care planning guide before you retire and begin collecting Social Security and other benefits.
This is because even a few years’ difference in when you start collecting benefits can have a substantial impact on:
- What benefits are available to you
- The level of benefits you can expect
- The length of time those benefits will be accessible
If you or your loved one has already reached retirement age, consider creating an elder care plan as soon as possible.
Some individuals need to arrange long term care resources well before they retire. You or a loved one may need to put a plan in place earlier if you or they:
- Are in poor health
- Have a chronic or complex health condition
- Have a family medical history of cancer, dementia, or early or sudden death
In any of these situations, you may wish to speak to an attorney as early as 50 years of age. An experienced elder care attorney can provide you with long term care examples, suggestions, and guidance appropriate to your needs.
Whenever a senior or family member with special needs in involved, it is best to start planning for long term care as soon as possible. This ensures that vulnerable family members are protected from the unexpected. Proper planning can ensure continuity of care and provide peace of mind for everyone.
Complex Family Situations
Finally, it is important to seek out a long term care planning guide sooner rather than later if you or a loved one has a complex family situation. Examples include situations involving:
- Second or successive marriages by either partner
- Children by more than one partner
- Full or partial ownership of businesses or other substantial assets
- Estranged, incarcerated, or otherwise unreliable family members
These and other situations like them can quickly lead to messy and costly legal situations when an individual dies or becomes incapacitated. Taking care of long term care planning essentials in advance can prevent long and protracted battles and conflicts over the care of people and assets.
Sooner Is Better Than Later
When in doubt, it is best to begin long term care planning sooner rather than later. Doing so provides you and your loved ones with the greatest amount of time and flexibility. It can open up opportunities that you may not have if you start later.
That said, it is never too late to contact an attorney about elder care plans. This is true even if you have already begun collecting benefits or are in a complicated situation. Legal experts can help you locate long term care resources you may not have known about and assist you in addressing your current circumstances in the best way possible.
Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones
Creating elder care plans can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Contact the experts today and let them help you set up the plans you need to protect yourself and the people you love.