It is perhaps human nature to avoid subjects that are not particularly pleasant to consider, but when it comes to making sure you’re prepared for the latter stages of your life you really have to face the facts head-on. Many would suggest that it is best to take a holistic approach and recognize that retirement planning, estate planning, and the period in between your active retirement and your eventual passing are all intimately interconnected. A lot of people are quite proactive about retirement planning, and the majority recognize the need to have an estate plan in place, but it is that middle period that is often overlooked.
The rapid aging of the population is one of the big stories of our time, with 10,000 people applying for Social Security every day and the oldest old being the fastest-growing segment of the population. Added longevity has obvious advantages but there are pitfalls as well. According to the Department of Health and Human Services around seven out of every 10 people who reach the age of 65 are someday going to need long-term care.
Depending on your financial resources paying for long-term care can be something that requires some careful planning. The average cost for a year in a nursing home in 2010 was in excess of $83,000, and assisted-living facility costs averaged nearly $40,000 annually. For those who do spend some time in a nursing home the average duration is about two and a half years, and many people would find a $200,000 expense to be more than a mere bump in the road.
The possibility of incapacity is something that must be planned for as well when you are considering the realities you may face during your twilight years. It is important to execute the appropriate powers of attorney so that there are decision-makers in place of your own choosing should you reach the point where incapacitation renders you unable to make medical and financial decisions for yourself.