When thinking about how to pay for assisted living, one option that seniors and their caregivers forget about is the ability to turn any active life insurance policy into a long-term care benefit plan. This little-known option has actually been in existence for decades, but few people take advantage of it.
Once a person reaches old age, life insurance is nice to have but not crucial, as more often than not they don’t have any dependents. However, long-term care is a major expense at this point in time. This option gives seniors the flexibility to use this investment for needs that are more pressing. The benefit can be used with any type of life insurance policy: term, whole, or universal.
In some ways, this benefit is similar to regular long-term care insurance (though the two are not exactly the same). Once the life insurance policy is converted, ownership of the policy shifts from the policyholder to a benefits administrator entity. The benefits administrator takes over responsibility for paying the monthly premiums on the policy. An account is set up from which the benefits administrator pays a specific amount, based on the value of the policy, towards the original policyholder’s long-term care needs. Often the monthly payment is flexible – for example, if the value of your policy is $24,000, you might be able to choose to receive $2,000 per month for 12 months, or $1,000 per month for 24 months.
It may not be a large enough amount to pay the full assisted living bill, but it can yield a significant monthly sum that will go a long way towards defraying costs. In many cases, the long-term care benefit is worth much more than the cash the policyholder would get by simply surrendering the policy.
Taking this option doesn’t mean completely forgoing the benefits of life insurance. You are often able to keep a small funeral benefit worth around one or two thousand dollars.
There are several reasons why this route may NOT work for you. For example, if you have a small policy of $10,000 or less, you’ll likely find that it’s better to choose the cash surrender value or simply keep the life insurance. Also, in some cases the cash surrender value may be larger than the long-term care benefit. Finally, in order to use this option you must have an immediate need for some form of approved long-term care. Payments are made directly to the long-term care provider, not to you.
If this seems like a possible option for you or your loved one, speak with a financial advisor who specializes in helping seniors.