Estate planning

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Emily Rautenberg
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

“When you start thinking about estate planning, you need to start thinking about long term care,” said Chris Tomolonis, Jersey City-based Wealth Management Advisor, at the most recent installment of the Advanced Financials Workshop series at the Military and Family Support Center.

In his series, Tomolonis covered “Getting Financially Fit,” “Investing 101,” “Retirement,” and now, “Estate Planning.”

Tomolonis began by outlining the five different types of insurance: Level term, traditional whole life, universal life, indexed universal life, and variable life. He focused mainly on level term, which only lasts for the duration of the insurance’s term, and traditional whole life, which is permanent.

He also listed his top ten reasons for buying life insurance: Replace lost income, cover burial expenses, pay off debt, college planning, build cash value, diversify investments, business planning, estate taxes, coverage is affordable, and peace of mind.

He recommends investing in life insurance from a young age, especially since the rates are lower for young people (and women). Besides, no one knows for sure how long he or she is going to live. Paying a small price now is worth protecting yourself and your family in the future.

“You still need to protect yourself when you’re older,” Tomolonis reminded the group.

According to “Medicare & You 2015” from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service, at least 70 percent of people over 65 will need long-term care services and support at some point in their lives.

Tomolonis added that at $7,000-12,000 per month, depending on the area, these services could cost around $100,000 per year. Otherwise, home health aides cost at least $20 an hour.

“All of that money goes to the facilities instead of the kids,” he informed. “Long term care is the biggest estate killer.”

Since this care can be so detrimental to the savings a person has worked so hard to accrue, it is important to plan ahead. There are five main ways to pay for long-term care: Family and friends, personal savings, retirement accounts, traditional long-term care insurance, and hybrid insurance products. Hybrid products combine life and long term care benefits, which may include a return of premiums or death benefits.


In addition to planning how any necessary care will be paid for, it is important to also have a will. Every state has different rules, so you will need to make these plans on a state-by-state basis. As a rule of thumb, keep your will in a safe deposit box and update it every three years. You can create a living will by contacting the Judge Advocate General’s office.

“Ultimately, it’s all about protecting your family and your assets,” Tomolonis said.


Another way to help protect these assets, particularly for your children, is through trusts. Trusts are used to create provisions on when and how the children can use your money. This can be a good tool for protecting your children without giving in-laws or other relatives access to the money.

While a lot of this may seem daunting, starting to think about the future is incredibly important in order to protect yourself and your family.


“You don’t know how much care you’ll need, or how long you’re going to live, so it’s impossible to know how much money you’ll need,” Tomolonis said. “Writing down a plan of action is huge.”

For more information, check out these helpful videos by New Dominion Media at They have one titled “Estate Planning | Trusts” and another titled, “Estate Planning | Wills,” which Tomolonis used in his presentation.