Kim Zwick: Learn about estate planning in The Union |

Kim Zwick: Learn about estate planning in The Union

Welcome to a new column from members of the Gold Country Estate Planning Council (GCEPC). What’s GCEPC, you may ask?

GCEPC was founded in 1989 with the mission of supporting an interdisciplinary approach to estate planning, through education, communication, council meetings and projects for local professionals. Members work together to increase community awareness of the need for estate planning, and the benefits of a collaborative, professional process.

For information, check out Not only does the site list local professionals – legal advisers, tax advisers, financial advisers, insurance advisers, professional fiduciaries and appraisers – it also provides handy links to planning-related sites for college funding, charitable planning, tax resources, elder law, etc.

With that introduction, let’s begin with our first topic, long-term care (LTC) planning. Statistically, the longer you live, the greater the likelihood that you may require LTC. While you may have worked decades to accumulate the resources to retire comfortably, just a few years of LTC may erase a lifetime of savings.

If you’ve ever been part of a care-giving situation, you understand the physical and emotional effects this may have on caregivers – spouses, children and other family members. Waiting to address LTC needs until the point at which care is actually needed may significantly impact your financial situation, quality of life and ability to maintain independence.

With that in mind, there are a few common mistakes to avoid, with the first being waiting too long to address the issue. While some couples may be able to “self-insure,” you may find that paying a reasonable premium can transfer the financial risk and protect assets. Since the cost of LTC insurance is typically based on your age and health when you apply, the older you are when you apply, the higher the cost may be, for the same coverage.

An additional risk is the decision to only insure one spouse/partner. While it’s true that women are more likely to need LTC, this approach creates a greater risk if the husband should need care prior to his spouse.

There are a number of variables that can impact the premium for coverage – daily benefit amount, benefit period, deductible or elimination period, inflation protection and optional riders to customize the coverage. Many insurance companies offer various discounts as well. The most common are preferred health and marital/partner discounts that may reduce the premium by 10 to 40 percent.

The reputation, experience and financial strength of the company behind the policy selected are very important. Working with a qualified professional can help determine the right plan, and the right provider, to meet your needs.

Future GCEPC columns will cover areas of importance and interest regarding estate planning. As the coordinator, I’ll be glad to hear from you at regarding subjects you’d like to see addressed.

Kim Zwick, CPA/PFS, of Full Circle Financial, can be reached at

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