Collage of Smiling Blond Nurse helping Senior Man Outdoors in front of Retirement Building on Sunny Day – Shutterstock Image ID 295359311 and 293983016 - Copyright Belushi

We often hear from married couples during estate planning conferences that they do not plan to go to a nursing home. Our half joking reply is that lines rarely form for people wanting to enter nursing homes unless they are visiting nursing home residents.

Unfortunately, according to the Indiana Long-Term Care Partnership Program, “individuals living over the age of 65 will have a 60-70% chance of needing some type of long term care service.” If that statistic is correct, wise people should plan for nursing home care, and then invest in healthy lifestyles that permit some people to remain at home.

The Indiana Long-Term Care Partnership Program provides a tremendous amount of statistics and information about long-term care investment topics, including this information:

  • Good News – We Are Living Longer
  • Bad News – We Are Living Longer
  • 7 out of 10 individuals will need Home Health Care some time during their lives.
  • Currently, 40% of those using long term care services in the U.S. are between the ages of 18 and 64.

As a population, we are living longer because of healthier lifestyles, new medical technology, and drug treatments. These medical advances enable us to live with a mental or physical condition longer than ever before. A 65 year old individual today is expected to live well into his/her late 80’s. Because we are aging and living longer, our ability to perform normal activities of daily living could be hindered due to a medical issue. Long term care services assist an individual with everyday activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, and mobility that are hindered because of a medical or mental condition.

The Indiana Long Term Care Insurance Program (ILTCIP) is an innovative working partnership between the State of Indiana and private long term care insurance companies. Indiana has taken the lead in helping its residents protect their hard-earned life savings from the high cost of long term care by promoting the awareness of long term care.

All long term care insurance policies available from insurance companies are not the same. Policies are approved by the Indiana Department of Insurance as meeting required state statutes. “Partnership policies” offer the consumer additional benefits for their long term care needs and protection for their savings. In addition, Partnership insurance policies qualify for a state tax deduction helping Hoosiers to protect even more of their savings.

We encourage our younger clients (you are as young as you feel – right?) to speak with their financial advisors about long-term care insurance because insurance is the most reliable way to protect assets from long-term care expenses. Some financial planning gurus, such as Dave Ramsey, advise people not to buy long-term care insurance until age 60. The problem with that advice is that many people develop health conditions in their late 40s and early 50s, such as high blood pressure and early diabetes symptoms, that either disqualify them for long-term care insurance or make insurance premiums unaffordable. Furthermore, we have seen several heartbreaking cases of people diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s disease in their 50s. Therefore, we encourage people to buy long-term care insurance before they develop pre-existing conditions that interfere with buying long-term care insurance.

It is bad enough for someone’s house to fail to the point of needing nursing home care, but it is unnecessarily tragic for them to plan not to go and end up in a nursing home anyway. We advise all of our clients to establish estate plans with strong powers of attorney and health-care documents that are specifically designed to deal with long-term care issues (our other blog articles on this topic at our website include: Power of Attorney – An Estate Plan’s Most Powerful Tool; Are All Powers of Attorney Created Equal?; and Puny Powers of Attorney).

Jeff R. Hawkins and Jennifer J. Hawkins are Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyers and active members of the Indiana State Bar Association and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Both lawyers are admitted to practice law in Indiana, and Jeff Hawkins is admitted to practice law in Illinois. Jeff is also a registered civil mediator, a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the Indiana Bar Foundation;  a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Indiana Association of Mediators; and he was the 2014-15 President of the Indiana State Bar Association.

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