Since age 60 is the supposedly the new age 40, many baby boomers are living well with potentially many more years to live. As discussed in a Forbes article titled, “The Most Important Estate Planning Issue Boomers Need To Address”, it is estimated that by the year 2050, 1 out of every 5 Americans will be over age 65 with fastest growing demographic being those age 85 and over. In addition to an aging population, people are able to live longer with chronic diseases; 92% of seniors are living with one chronic disease and 77% have two or more.
Our aging society poses a unique challenge to traditional estate planning. With an increase in fraud and financial abuse targeting the elderly, it is recommended that a person’s estate planning should be completed at least by age 50.
If your parents or other loved ones have old estate planning documents that were drafted right after their wedding or after the birth of their first child, you should encourage an estate plan review. Many older estate plans for married couples are designed for both spouses to be of sound mind and healthy. Problems can arise from this traditional design such as divorce, mental incapacity from Alzheimer’s, etc., or physical incapacity from injury or stroke. This also applies to unmarried seniors as they may have appointed an aging sibling or friend as power of attorney.
One solution is to appoint someone besides an aging spouse or sibling as agent under a power of attorney. Having a trusted, capable person appointed ahead of time to make financial and medical decisions when a loved one can no longer make such decisions can be a life saver.