UNITED STATES—Hi Toni: Recently, I had a bad car wreck and ended up with only a minor concussion from hitting the windshield. My wife was not hurt. I am 55 years old and have not thought about long-term care planning due to a life changing event. I work for a large company and the company’s financial advisor has never discussed this with me. What do I need to do? Steve from Las Vegas, NV.

Steve: Great question because Americans do not realize how in an instant your life can be turned upside down!

My life-changing event was a few years ago when I had an accident while grilling steaks. My life flashed in front of me as an 8-foot flame busted out of the gas propane tank burning my hair, face, and left arm. All I could say was HELP!! I was ambulanced to a Burn Unit at the Houston Medical Center, but I was totally blessed because I only had a first-degree burn. I was released from the ER just needing Neosporin cream.

Steve let’s discuss what financial and legal documents you will want to have in place to protect you, your family and elderly parents.

Financial Plans to protect your family:

1) Life Insurance: Term, Universal or Whole life insurance if you are losing your life insurance benefit from your employer when you retire. I always advise our Toni Says Medicare clients to have personal life coverage aside from work coverage as extra protection for you and your family.

2) Long-Term Care plan:

-Traditional Long-Term Care Policy:  The younger you are when you and your spouse purchase a long-term care policy, the lower the premiums will be. My advice is to search for a long-term care plan while younger and in relatively good health. Make sure that the policy covers care at home and in-facility care.

-Hybrid Life and Annuity Policy: Many life/annuity insurance policies have a provision if you need long term care; you can receive a certain amount of long-term care with your life/annuity policy’s face amount.

3) Short-Term Care Plan: Assists with paying for care at home or in a facility for a maximum of two years. Does not cover the same benefits as a long-term care plan. Underwriting may not be a little easier past 65 than a long-term care plan.

Legal documents to protect your family:

(Adult children of elderly parents need to be sure that their parents also have these three legal documents in place).

1) Power of Attorney for you and your spouse is the cornerstone of a financial management plan. It is a written document whereby someone is appointed to manage that person’s financial affairs in the event of illness or incapacity. Signing a power of attorney is critical to ensure a person’s future independence in the event of illness or incapacity. Without it, one risks having his or her affairs managed by a court-appointed guardian, possibly a stranger, under court supervision and often without the ability to have any input.

2) Medical Power of Attorney (known as a Health Care Power of Attorney) gives someone you trust the legal authority to act on your behalf regarding health care decisions if you ever become incapacitated or unable to communicate.

3) Living Will is a written statement that details the type of care you want (or don’t want) if you become incapacitated. A living will bear no relation to the conventional will or living trust used to leave property at death.

Remember, even “Superman” Christopher Reeves didn’t think he would fall off a horse, and it changed his life forever. Always be prepared!

Call the Toni Says® Medicare hotline at 832-519-8664 or email info@tonisays.com with Medicare help. Toni’s Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition is available at www.tonisays.com. Toni’s Medicare Moments articles have just been released at www.familytalktoday.com/medicare-moments.