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Estate planning: States weighing public options for senior care

As people age, their health care needs often increase, through no fault of their own. Some of those people must move into a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Some states around the country are attempting to create programs that would allow senior citizens to continue to live in their own homes. The thought is that by doing so, states will save money in the long term, by reducing claims made on Medicaid. Florida seniors may want to pay attention to these efforts as a similar program here could have a significant impact on estate planning.

One state has approved a new payroll tax that will fund a benefit program to provide people with in-home health care and other forms of assistance. Another state is employing a similar program, but it will provide weekly benefits, rather than a lump sum, to those who have family caregivers working at least 30 hours outside the home every week. Many other state legislatures are similarly concerned about the care of older Americans, since there will be 98 million adults older than 65 by 2050, double the current number.

Programs like these are likely to increase in popularity, as the state searches for ways to keep people in their homes. One study suggests that over half of adults older than age 65 will need long-term assistance for an average of two years at some point in their lives. A number of people in the country have long-term care insurance plans, but for some, it is not an affordable choice. Federal lawmakers have tried to enact several measures in the past, but have not had much success finding an option that can sustain funding.

Whether Florida implements a similar program or not, these efforts highlight just how important it is that families ensure that the wishes of their older loved ones are known and well-thought-out. The best way to do that is to create a comprehensive estate plan. An attorney with experience in estate planning can help a family determine exactly what each person wants for his or her estate and how it should be handled.

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