Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : November 2005

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Achieving Maximum Flexibility When We Can No Longer Touch Our Toes
By John C. Morris

When I was in fifth grade, my gym teacher always made us stretch for 10 minutes before we got to play dodge ball, basketball, soccer or whatever the day’s activity was. He said that we could prevent many injuries if we were flexible enough to touch our toes. Trust me when I say that this makes zero sense to a 10-year-old boy with a giant red rubber ball hurling at his head. How being able to touch my toes was going to prevent having “Spalding” tattooed on my forehead was beyond me at the time.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, defines flexible as “[having] the ability to respond and adapt to change”. Now physically, we can control our flexibility through regular stretching and exercise up to a certain point, but after a while, time takes its toll and the body begins to lose flexibility. The same holds true from a financial standpoint. However, through regular attention and maintenance, we can maintain our financial flexibility and independence throughout the course of our lives. Many people neglect one particular aspect of their financial planning, leaving themselves exposed at a time when they have the least flexibility from both a physical and financial standpoint. This time in our lives is retirement, and the problem that some could face is a catastrophic event that triggers the need for costly ongoing custodial or skilled care. The potential solution is long-term care insurance.

According to research by the American Society on Aging, 60 to 70 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will require such assistance at some point in their lives. If you have not considered long-term care insurance when addressing your retirement planning, you could be exposing your family and yourself to a great financial risk. Long-term care insurance provides you with a plan of care as well as a means of addressing the ongoing costs associated with it.

So, how can you secure a plan of care that will give you the most flexibility and freedom when you are perhaps at your weakest? When looking at a long-term care policy, you may want to consider:

bullet How long can you wait before you start to receive the benefits?
bullet How long a period do you want the benefits to be payable?
bullet How much benefit do you need?
bullet Have you accounted for inflation?
bullet What are the insurance carrier’s ratings and total assets?

To achieve maximum financial flexibility, you may also want to consider an Indemnity policy model as opposed to a medical reimbursement policy model. Medical reimbursement policies reimburse you for your actual long-term care expenses, up to the dollar amount you choose, for each day of care subject to your policy limitations. An indemnity type policy pays a fixed dollar amount for each day of care up to the limits of your policy, regardless of the cost of your care. This allows the insured to receive the full benefit amount that they have chosen, no matter what the cost of the care they are receiving.

Flexibility is something we often take for granted when we are young and often long for when we are older. Why allow the physical hindrances of aging to impact the financial nest egg that you have worked so hard to secure? Long-term care insurance could be a vehicle that gives you financial flexibility well into your golden years, even though you can no longer touch your toes.


John C. Morris, CLTC, is an associate of FranklinMorris, Coordinating Broker for the Bar Associations Insurance Agency, Inc. For more information on the insurance benefits available to MSBA members, visit our website at: www.msba.org/departments/membership/baia/.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: November 2005

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