The Real Cost of Assisted Living
HIDDEN FEES AND ADDED SERVICES
A ccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of seniors is growing. Projections indicate that 56 million seniors will inhabit the country by 2020 and 74 million by 2030. As the number of seniors increases, so does the need for senior living facilities. While you can still find plenty of traditional nursing homes, assisted living facilities have soared in popularity over the years. While this type of community has many benefits for seniors and their families, it can be difficult to parse exactly what you’ll be paying for. The pricing structure and contract details require careful consideration before you decide on an appropriate facility for your loved one. Prices for assisted living facilities vary significantly. Because they offer a slew of services, you need to be fully aware of what you’re paying for. The base price you are quoted will usually include rent, meals, and activities offered on the premises. Some companies may offer a few additional basic services included in this cost, but as a rule, you can expect that any extra services will increase the price. Beware the Dead Plans Our firm gets called in to deal with nightmare situations all the time. Someone’s assets have gotten tangled up in an ugly probate dispute, and we’re brought in at the last minute to sort out the mess. Are these outside cases so tough because the deceased didn’t have a will or trust? No. The messiest probate cases often stem from a plan that didn’t fit an individual’s goals. This is the scariest trend in estate planning: firms offering bottom-dollar wills that only serve to give people a false sense of security. These one-size-fits-all plans are pumped out by large online firms and estate planners fresh out of law school looking to build a large client list quickly. While it’s good short-term business for these companies, the results can be catastrophic for the families they are supposed to help. Wills that are too generic, broad in scope, or out-of-date end up creating more disputes in probate, not less. Sorting out the ownership of cherished heirlooms and valuable property should not be ignored. No matter what your income bracket or estate planning goals are, you need a plan that fits your assets and your family’s needs. Beyond just having a specific plan, you need to also have the assurance it will be implemented correctly. Estate planning is one of the few areas of law where some firms will leave you alone in completing this critical step. Our team here at Keystone believes in actually using our law school education. We wouldn’t expect your family to know how to implement these complex legal documents; that’s what we’re here for. Add-ons for assisted living services can range from basic hygiene needs to medical costs. If your loved one needs help dressing, you can expect an
additional fee. The same goes for medication reminders, escorts to meals, incontinence care, and many other services. On-site
activities are usually folded into the base rate, but be sure of that before signing. Access to a gym, pool, or pharmacy, for example, may incur extra charges. One advantage of the pricing model of assisted living facilities is that you can add services at any time. Many care facilities house seniors of varying health and ability levels. In the event that your loved one needs more services, they are easy to add to your payment package. However, it’s important that you read the terms and conditions detailing any services you decide to include. Otherwise, you may end up paying for a service your loved one doesn’t need. The most important piece of advice when it comes to the hidden costs of assisted living is to read your contract thoroughly. You can also consult an estate planning or elder law attorney to ensure that you’re fully aware of all charges and possible future costs.
THE NIGHTMARE OF DO-NOTHING WILLS
So if you were to ask us what keeps us up at night, it’s the countless people being misled by plans that do more harm than good. If you have not updated your will or are curious
about the advantages of a living trust, give us a call. We’ll work to understand your unique needs and goals and help you craft a plan that you and your family can be proud of.
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