Saturday, July 20, 2024

Should Some Clients Self-Fund for Long-Term Care? -Dlight News

Planning for long-term care is about choosing what works best for your clients and their family. Most often, that won’t be a state-mandated plan. But as long-term care costs continue to rise? States are likely to look for ways to shift expenses back to the consumer. What happened in Washington State is a good example.

In 2022, the state started requiring that employers deduct a percentage of paychecks to cover employees’ future long-term benefits. Leading up to the mandate’s deadline, many advisors helped clients consider alternative options by looking into private plans. Unfortunately, carriers became overwhelmed with applications, and many clients couldn’t secure coverage in time to be exempt.

As other states consider similar mandates and the need for planning for long-term care persists for everyone, you may want to adopt a plan that can be customized to fit different clients’ needs and would allow them to opt out of state mandates.

Traditional long-term care insurance. Due to higher-than-expected claims costs, the traditional long-term care space has seen a steady erosion of available products and a sharp increase in pricing for both new and existing coverage. Lifetime benefits, once an option on most policies, have been replaced by much shorter benefit durations. The financial risks of extended long-term care events can certainly be mitigated with these plans, but no longer can they be eliminated. Even well-covered individuals may have to self-fund to a degree.

Life insurance policy with a long-term care rider. For clients who want to self-fund for long-term care but don’t want to reposition a large sum of assets, life insurance is a good alternative. A life insurance policy allows for annual premiums rather than single premiums. Plus, because the policy is underwritten, the death benefits tend to exceed those from linked-benefit products.

Linked-benefit products. These products combine the features of long-term care insurance and universal life insurance, making them attractive for clients who are concerned about paying premiums and then never needing long-term care. By repositioning an existing asset, they can leverage that money for long-term care benefits, a death benefit (if long-term care is never needed), or both. The policyholder maintains control of the assets, freeing up retirement assets for other uses. Here’s a hypothetical example of how this might work:

Nicole is an HNW client. She’s 65 and married, and she previously declined long-term care insurance because she feels that she has enough money to self-fund, including $200,000 in CDs that she calls her “emergency long-term care fund.” You know, of course, that if she ever needs long-term care, this $200,000 won’t go far, and she may have to make up the shortfall with other assets.

Based on what we know about available products, their average benefits, and if Nicole is eligible for coverage, here is what she could gain if she repositions $100,000 to purchase a linked-benefit policy:

  • A death benefit of $180,000 (income tax-free)

  • A total long-term care fund of $540,000 (leveraging her $100,000 more than fivefold)

  • A monthly long-term care benefit of $7,500 (which would last for a minimum of 72 months)

  • A residual death benefit of $18,000 if she uses her entire long-term care fund

Care coordinators. Home care is often viewed as ideal by many clients but setting it up presents challenges. Both traditional long-term care insurance and linked-benefit insurance provide policyholders with care coordinators who can help facilitate this transition. These coordinators offer a very high-level concierge service, which can make a difficult time a little less stressful.

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