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Many people start with a Will. That’s putting the cart before the horse.

Start with a plan.

Plan for your retirement

Plan first for your retirement, your old age and, if it comes, your old, old age. Just as Americans now experience an extended adolescence, so, too, do we now experience an extended senescence.

Looking at your life savings, you may think that you have a lot of money. You also need to look at the other side of the balance sheet: the inflation which will cut your purchasing power in half in 20 years and the medical expenses, most of which will come in the last six months of life.

Review your Medicare Options

The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that a couple on Medicare could need $350,000 – not counting long-term care.

In 2013 Medicare paid for 62% of health care services for beneficiaries 65 and older; private insurance paid for another 13%. The declining financial condition of Medicare and the declining percentage of people who can rely on employment- based health insurance during retirement means that the amount which must be paid out-of-pocket can only increase. This is acerbated by the rising percentage of people who are enrolling in Medicare Advantage plans, which only pay 80%.

Some people may opt for traditional Medicare with a Medigap insurance plan to avoid Medicare Part A and Part B deductibles. But there is no coverage available for Medicare Part D (prescription drug) deductibles and other cost-sharing.

Whatever Medicare plan you choose, there is no coverage for dental care or hearing aids. There is no coverage for personal assistance or long-term care. If you cannot pay out of pocket, perhaps supplemented by long-term care insurance, you can rely on Medicaid – but only if skilled nursing home care is medically necessary. Congress’s proposals promise to eliminate Medicaid home health care. Only you, long-term care insurance and, if you qualify, VA Aid & Attendance or Housebound benefits, will pay someone to help you shower, dress, toilet, eat and move around.

Plan for yourself first. Your heirs can wait.

Estate Planning attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.

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