Estate planning is not long-term care planning.
Every lawyer says they do “estate planning.” That usually means powers of attorney and simple wills (without tax planning). There’s much more to estate planning than that.
But there is also a serious concern that many people think estate planning addresses when it doesn’t. Castastrophic long-term care expenses. Losing everything to a nursing home.
Long-term care planning allows a family to protect assets if mom or dad incurs horrendous medical or nursing home expenses. People do long-term care planning so that, if dad ends up in a nursing home, mom doesn’t have to eat cat food and there’s at least something to pass on to the kids when mom and dad are gone.
Every family should do estate planning. Not every family needs to do long-term care planning.
Who is it right for? As we lawyers love to say: “It depends.” How big is the family’s estate? How much income do mom and dad have? What health issues do they face? Is there a history of dementia in the family?
Most importantly, are mom and dad worrying about long-term care expenses? If they are, then that’s enough reason to at least explore the options. Mom and dad don’t have to just sit back, stew about the problem and then spend their entire live savings on nursing home expenses.
Because there are options. And simple wills and powers of attorney aren’t going to do the trick.