Q. What should I look for in a long-term care insurance policy?
— Planning ahead

A. Long-term care insurance can be a vital part of a financial plan.

It can not only help cover incredibly expensive costs for care, ease the financial burden on your loved ones and help preserve your assets, it can also help you have more choices for care should you ever need it.

Your chances of needing long-term care are greater if you have a family history of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, said Alison Williams, a certified financial planner with Stonegate Wealth Management in Oakland.

She said other factors to consider are current health, family history, how you feel about the possibility of being placed in a state-sponsored institution vs. a private care facility, and whether you wish to leave your children an inheritance.

One possible new twist on long term care expenses are “Filial” laws that many states — including New Jersey — have on the books.

“Those laws can, in some cases, lead to lawsuits that force children to be responsible for the costs of their parents care,” Williams said. “They have not been enforced in a widespread fashion, but it’s an area that needs to be watched.”

Williams said there are several items you should look for in a long-term care policy.

When obtaining a quote, she said, the terms should include a minimum daily benefit of $200 per day, a waiting period of 100 days and coverage for five years.

“The policy should also provide for home health care and all benefits should be inflation adjusted,” she said. “The premiums for long-term care are high, but it’s important to consider that in the event long-term care is needed, you could end up incurring a monthly cost of $7,000-$20,000.”

That’s the average for New Jersey, she said.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.

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