We're mid-way through Financial Planning Week. If you haven't done anything to celebrate yet, do this: Make talking to your clients about long-term care a priority. A recent survey shows that they need your help -- desperately.


According to a MetLife survey, most Americans don't have a clue about long-term care -- which is not a good thing, since the same survey notes that half of them will need it at some point in their lifetime.


Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of close to 1,500 Americans between 40 and 70 years old who took MetLife's Long-Term Care IQ Test flunked. To see the 15-question test (or to have your clients complete it), go to http://www.metlifeltciq.com/quiz.


And one of the areas where people fared the worst had to do with questions related to the cost of LTC services. Only 27 percent of respondents correctly identified the average annual cost of receiving long-term care in a nursing home. In case you're wondering, MetLife research says it's $60,000 to $69,999. Forty-one  percent mistakenly believe that they are entitled to basic coverage for long-term care from the government at retirement. The same proportion cites Medicare, Medicare Supplement (Medigap) or disability insurance as forms of insurance that pay for this care.


Nearly two-thirds of respondents incorrectly estimate the cost of waiting to buy LTC insurance at an older age. According to MetLife, waiting until age 65 to purchase an LTC policy that covers care both in your own home and in a facility at $150 per day for three years of care with inflation protection costs three times as much as the same policy purchased for a 45-year-old.


This is where you, the advisor, can help by educating clients on what this stuff really costs and by helping them plan properly, so that they can pay for it if they need it. As difficult as it may be to get clients to talk about the day when they'll need help getting dressed, it will be more difficult to get them to stick to the plans you've helped them develop if they don't have a very real handle on why the heck they need to plan so early or save so much.


You don't have to be an expert on LTC to help them address the issues. Getting them to see what the issues are is half the battle. And while you're at it, you might want to bring up the topic of life expectancy. According to MetLife, less than 40 percent of people who took the quiz knew that a 65-year-old has a 50 percent likelihood of living another 18 years.


Happy Financial Planning Week.

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