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When you’ve been in a particular profession for awhile (and I’ve been in long term care funding since 1991), you tend to view the world through a certain lens. It can be interesting when what we take as an immutable truth, when viewed from another approach, leads to a different perspective.

Let me explain. It has recently occurred to me that it would make sense to take a new planning approach to long term care funding. I believe this new approach is critical for those of us who make our living helping others do long term care planning.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

When you go to your doctor, they don’t just ask about one aspect of how you are functioning!

How about your first meeting with a financial planner? Have you ever seen the questionnaire they want you complete so they can learn more about you? It’s not only a balance sheet and income statement, but it’s sure to ask about risk tolerance and goals.

Not to mention the estate planning attorney. Want to protect your assets and provide for their eventual distribution to your children and grandchildren? Then be ready to spill the beans, from everyone’s health to exactly who you care about (and who you don’t)!

Why is the LTC planning any different? Shouldn’t it mirror the approach of other caring, thoughtful, professionals?

I have surveyed many LTC agents and asked what they do to prepare for an appointment. The answer I invariably receive is that they ask their prospect to complete a medical pre-qualification questionnaire. That is because almost all representatives that sell LTCI are focused on selling only long term care insurance, and they want to make sure their prospect has a chance to get LTCI issued. What about all the other products that are now available, and in some cases, may be more attractive or more appropriate for your prospect?

Shouldn’t today’s LTC “expert” approach their prospect in much the same way that other professionals do? Shouldn’t we be taking a more ‘planning’ approach to helping our soon-to-be-client in managing their long term care risks?

The planning approach means getting a complete picture of not only who our prospect is medically and financially, but what are their family dynamics, who advises them in decision making, and most important, what are their goals regarding long term care planning.

I suggest using a comprehensive questionnaire as a consistent guide in gathering information. In short, apply the long standing success principle of “First seek to understand, then seek to be understood.”

A project I have recently worked on is to develop a truly comprehensive LTC Planning questionnaire. Please contact me if you’d like a copy.

The LTC industry has evolved. For those that want to also evolve their professions to become more of a LTC Planning Expert, not just a LTCI product expert, great opportunity lies ahead.