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Do Rising Healthcare Costs Called for Updated Trusts?

One of the biggest concerns at the top of minds for retirees are being able to afford potential decades of life post-retirement and preparing for soaring healthcare costs.


If you were savvy enough to put together a trust in the past to help protect your beneficiaries, now might be the time to revisit that trust if it’s revocable. You might need some of the assets placed inside the trust for the purposes of paying for healthcare needs, but decisions like this should not be made lightly. 

Trusts that were more recently drafted might warrant a review to limit expenses where possible in light of the fact that so many baby boomers and future retirees are likely to need long-term care at some point.

According to some studies, healthcare costs have doubled the rising rate of inflation over the course of decades, putting them front and center for those approaching estate planning. Even one serious accident or chronic illness could make it difficult or impossible for someone to return to work. The costs for those incidents are much higher, too.

In a study published by Fidelity in 2017, the average couple will spend $285,000 in retirement on healthcare expenses alone- and that study left out long-term care expenses. For high net worth families, that number is higher and closer to $1 million.

Given the complexities of modern estate planning, such as trying to account for longevity and the rising number of people in second or third marriages, trusts must be considered carefully. The language inside trusts could consider how healthcare expenses factor into the big picture. If you’re trying to provide for your loved ones and have specified healthcare expenses as one approved cost inside an irrevocable trust, for example, consider what that means. Does a wellness retreat count? A special diet program?

And beware the common practice of setting up a dollar cap on what a beneficiary can spend on healthcare. While that number might seem reasonable now, remember the statistic above about how quickly healthcare costs are outpacing even inflation. Depending on when your beneficiary taps into the trust power, that number might be far less effective at helping them cover major costs.

If you have created an older trust you can revoke or amend or haven’t created one yet, now might be the right time to set up on trust per beneficiary to ensure that all of a trust’s assets are not spent just by one beneficiary in a healthcare crisis.

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