We are leading healthier lives than ever before. As a result, we’re also living longer. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people aged 65 and older are the fastest-growing age group – growing by 30 percent over the last ten years. This is great news for our lives, but it does have implications for our livelihoods.
We may wait longer to retire. Or we may retire at the planned time but need a bigger nest egg to do that comfortably. We also may not be able to pass as much on to our children and grandchildren as we first thought. Our younger generations may not inherit until they are much older in life. All of these differences have an impact on estate planning.
Here are a few things to consider when planning for your longevity.
Planning for Additional Costs
People living longer have a greater need for money. As you age, you need to plan to have enough funds to cover your everyday expenses for an extended period and health care, which tend to increase with age.
When Social Security was established, the typical retirement age was 65 years. The average American male lived only to about age 68. Today, though, a person who retires at age 65 is likely to live to age 81 for a man and 85 for a woman. Longer lives increase the need for financial resources, especially as people want to enjoy an active retirement.
According to RegisteredNursing.org, healthcare costs average around $2,000 per year for children, followed by a steady increase to over $11,000 per year when you’re over 65 years old. Even if you have private insurance or Medicare, you may still be on the hook for a portion of your health care costs as you age.
Asset Protection Planning
While it may not be fun to think about, most seniors require some form of long-term care which can be very costly. Someone turning age 65 today has nearly a 70% chance of needing some long-term care. Twenty percent will need it for more than five years. The national annual median cost of a semi-private room ran $7,756 a month, or $93,075 per year, in 2021. Sadly, many of us are unprepared for the significant financial burdens on our hard-earned savings or our families.
If you’ve focused on building a bigger nest egg, you won’t want to spend down all of it to pay for nursing homes or other long-term care. Medicaid benefits could help with long-term care costs, but the problem is that Medicaid income and asset limits are just that: limiting. These limits are the most cumbersome and problematic aspect of qualifying for Medicaid benefits. Single Medicaid applicants need incomes less than $2,382 per month and no more than $2,000 in countable assets to qualify. Married couples who both apply can have no more than $3,000 in countable assets.
By planning with a Florida Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, you can ensure that you will qualify when you submit a Medicaid application without spending down your family’s assets. However, early planning is critical. Asset protection planning is only effective if you make the transfers five years before your Medicaid application. Not all types of trusts are Medicaid-compliant, so it is important to work with an experienced Florida elder law attorney to ensure it is done correctly.
Planning for Incapacity
Increased life expectancy does not necessarily mean all of those years will be healthy. Aging is a risk factor for dementia, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and other illnesses. It would be best if you planned for the scenario that you might spend some of your years in a diminished capacity. That’s where your estate plan comes in.
Advance Directives, such as a Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, and Living Will, are essential for any comprehensive estate plan.
- Durable Power of Attorney allows you to name someone who can make critical decisions about your financial, medical, and legal affairs.
- Health Care Surrogate is a person of your choice who will make healthcare decisions and receive health care information on your behalf.
- A living will, sometimes referred to as an advanced health care directive, is a legal document that states your end-of-life healthcare decisions, such as whether you want to be resuscitated or stay on life support.
Having these documents in place will ensure that when it is time to make difficult decisions, your loved ones and doctors understand what you would like them to do. Your wishes will be honored even after you can no longer make or express those decisions yourself.
A qualified elder law attorney can help you think through all the implications of living longer. The sooner you talk with one, the sooner you can focus on living your life than planning for it. Contact our experienced attorneys at Mortellaro Law for a free consultation today.
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