Most of us know that we need estate planning. We know that we need to name a decision maker who can act on our behalf should we become incapacitated. We understand that we need to create a will or a trust to make sure our assets are distributed to the people we want to receive them at death. Even if we have not completed estate planning, we recognize the need for it.

Good estate planning in California is essential but it is only the first step. You are planning for a future where you cannot make decisions or have passed away and will be unable to take care of your family, but what about the intervening time frame? What happens if you are no longer able to live at home unassisted or suddenly have a need for 24 hour skilled care in a nursing home? Each day many people across the nation are diagnosed with dementia or are in critical accidents that leave them unable to take care of themselves or their family. At any time, this could happen to you and your estate plan may not be set up in a way that supports you.

In other words, estate planning is only half of the equation. In fact, many of the planning techniques that are correct for providing for incapacity or death will not help you, and could possibly harm you, when it comes to long-term care planning.

For example, did you create a revocable living trust to make sure that your assets avoid probate? This same trust offers no protection against depletion of your assets should you need skilled nursing home care. Are you giving the annual gift tax exclusion amount each year to your children? While this can be a great estate planning and tax strategy, you may have just disqualified yourself from the ability to receive Medi-Cal.

Unfortunately, as our potential need for long-term care increases, estate planning without a focus on elder law and long term care in the future, is not enough. The most recent Genworth study shares that the cost of an assisted living facility in California is $4,000 per month while the cost of a semi private room is over $7,500. Remember, this is just an average. Costs in more densely-populated areas of the state such as Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco and the surrounding bay area counties will have above-average costs. Most of us cannot afford those costs and our monthly budget and need to plan now for a future where we might need this care.

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.

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