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Long-term-care insurance

10 largest sellers, including MetLife Inc., Prudential Financial Inc. and Unum, have sharply reduced or discontinued sales since 2010, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Only a dozen or so companies still sell meaningful numbers of policies, down from about 100 a decade ago, according to Life Plans Inc., a consultant.”

Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Long-Term-Care Insurance Leaves Customers Groping
By Kelly Greene and Leslie Scism

Jane and I still strongly recommend that our estate planning clients look into long-term-care insurance as an option for paying for long-term-care.  Consult with an insurance professional so that you can get up-to-date information that applies to your circumstances.  Having the right long-term-care coverage in place can pay for in-home care, assisted living facilities, or the nursing home.  Some plans will provide complete coverage for a period of time, but many plans will pay a certain daily dollar amount.  Either way, good coverage will allow the client to save some of his or her own assets for other uses or for  beneficiaries.

However, because of the changes in the long-term-care insurance industry, the number of people who will be able to purchase such policies may decline.  We also hear stories from clients who inquired about long-term-care insurance but, because of certain medical conditions or injuries, were either denied coverage or were quoted rates that they felt they could not afford.

If long-term-care insurance is not available or not affordable, there are other planning options.  We work with a number of clients for whom long-term-coverage is not an option.  We can help those clients preserve assets, regardless of whether long-term-care is distant possibility or an immediate reality.

The lesson?  As with every other aspect of estate planning, it is important for clients to get good information far enough in advance so that they can effectively plan.  Clients often ask, “When is the right time to start planning?”  Our half-kidding answer is, “At least five years before you go into a nursing home.”  The practical answer is to get good information now so that you can make choices to create your own estate plan before things like inflation, increasing premiums, health issues, and long-term-care expenses limit your choices and, in effect, do the planning for you.

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