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Long-term care planning a must for Washington residents

As a general rule, the baby boomer generation has enjoyed greater financial success than subsequent generations, but as Washington residents may know from experience, the disparity between generations has also meant that the fruits of that success often end up going toward the ongoing welfare of children rather than the future needs of parents. Financial planners are increasingly warning baby boomers against putting off activities that may be essential to handling critical issues in later years.

Among the most important is the recommendation to get on top of estate planning and long-term care planning. A few relatively simple steps may be all it takes to set the stage in order to realize your end-of-life wishes and make sure your requests are heard and met.

Even though it can be difficult to go through the process of considering the end of one's own life, a living will and legally valid health care directives can help make care decisions easier for loved ones and potentially avoid unnecessary legal disputes.

Beyond the act of memorializing one's end-of-life wishes, planning ahead to adequately finance end-of-care should be a primary concern. A properly crafted trust can provide a useful vehicle for financing certain long-term care needs. A long-term care insurance policy can also prove invaluable when it comes to asset preservation for the next generation.

Despite the fact that many senior citizens are forced to spend down most of their estate assets before qualifying for programs like Medicaid that can provide assistance with long-term care costs, studies indicate that only about 20 percent of baby boomers have purchased a long-term care plan.

Many states, including Washington, offer partnership programs that enable people with long-term care insurance to retain more of their personal assets and still qualify for Medicaid long-term care assistance. Learning about the options for financing long-term care and getting professional assistance to set up those options can be a benefit to every Kent resident regardless of wealth.

Source: Forbes, "7 Steps for Baby Boomers to Take NOW," Erik Carter, Jan. 9, 2013

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