Changes are coming as five million baby boomers are turning 65 every year for the next 15 years. Experts have predicted changes affecting the economy, housing, our social structure, recreational activities and health care services for an aging population that will continue to grow. And baby boomers have different expectations about their “golden years” than their parents did. As a result special attention should be paid particularly to estate planning for baby boomers.
Many Boomers Lack Estate Plans
Recent studies have shown that most Americans haven’t done any estate planning. In 2010, Forbes reported that less than half of people age 65 and older reported they had even basic documents like a power of attorney and not many more reported having any health care directives. The report questioned why so few Americans have created an estate plan. Many people cited the difficult economy as their reason for not planning. However, another major issue was the misconception that estate planning is only necessary for the rich, and that estate planning is only about death or dying.
The questions asked by the report revealed that many people are not aware if everything an estate plan contains, but also the consequences of not having a plan. Creating an estate plan isn’t just about choosing who gets your property after you pass. An important component to every estate plan is planning for while you are alive. This includes disability planning. Wouldn’t everyone want to pick the person who would make their health care or financial decisions if they were unable to do so on their own? Yes. The problem is that people’s failure to create a plan now means they don’t have one when they need it later. And later is too late.
Estate Plans for Baby Boomers
Baby boomers tend to have a very different outlook on their lives than their parents. Most boomers are optimistic, proactive and often have a romantic or idealist view of the future. Many baby boomers want to “make a difference” and value their ability to stay engaged, relevant and able to contribute. Many boomers can also be quite skeptical and like doing their own research. However, concern about the huge cost that long term care poses has made baby boomers a little less reluctant to get started on their estate plans.
Estate planning for baby boomers is different than what was seen by previous generations. A estate plan for baby boomers isn’t the same plan their parents had. Today, estate plans for baby boomers should be comprehensive and include provisions to protect their future lifestyle and security. A boomer’s estate plan should also strive to minimize costs and taxes and pass the best possible legacy to loved ones.
Today, many baby boomer’s estate plans contain lifetime disability planning and some elder law asset protection strategies designed to protect their future lifestyle. Boomers should create an estate plan that creates security and future options for the event of a long term illness or needing long term care. Since baby boomers, like everyone else, are keen to maintain control over their lives, a good estate plan can create flexibility while retaining a degree of control.