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Estate Planning

Aging and Estate Planning

By November 9, 2016No Comments

You’ve made it to the “mature” years – the 60s, 70s and beyond.

The kids are grown, some with their own families. The big bills are paid. The bigger assets have been accumulated. Social security and Medicare loom large. Partial or full retirement is being planned, if not already enjoyed.

All that’s left is to stay (or get) healthy and enjoy the coming years, right? Wrong. There’s estate planning to do!

The peri/post-retirement years are particularly important for estate planning.

Those without estate plans should, of course, work with their FOS estate planning attorney to create plans, to protect their asset dispositions and their families.

Those with existing estate plans, however, are not off the hook. Existing plans should be reviewed, including the following areas:

1. Should you change your personal representative or trustee(s)?

The personal representative and trustee are crucial appointments, because they administer the assets under a will and a trust, respectively.
Especially for documents executed many years ago, the person first appointed may have died; become ill or incapacitated; no longer want to serve; or be a currently inappropriate choice, for personal or business reasons.

Or another trusted or otherwise appropriate person (a child now well into adulthood, a new trusted financial advisor) may now exist who is willing and whom you would prefer to so act.

2. Should a disposition’s timing be changed?

Estate planning documents, especially trusts, frequently pay bequests to some beneficiaries in trust or over several years.

It is common, for example, for bequests to children to be held in trust and distributed in three installments—one third when the child reaches 30, one third at 35, and the final third at 40.

Over the years, however, it may become apparent that one adult child is fiscally responsible and can be trusted to receive his or her share outright, without waiting.

It may become equally apparent that a different adult child is such a spendthrift that his or her bequest should never be paid outright, but should always be subject to the trustee’s reasonable approval.

3. Should a substantive disposition be changed?

Your original documents may have left money to a person you no longer like, a charity which is no longer a priority, or a church or synagogue with which you are no longer affiliated.

Or you may have made a large bequest to a person who is now disabled. That bequest may exceed social security disability’s income limitations, jeopardizing the person’s receipt of future benefits.

4. Is your financial power of attorney up to date?

The person you appointed in your original power of attorney may have moved out of state, making it difficult if not impossible for him or her to help with your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.

Or you might now want to give this authority to your financially capable grown children.

5. Have your health care views changed?

When you originally created your health care power of attorney, you might have included no specific requirements regarding medical decisions, preferring to allow your authorized “attorney” to make them for you under the circumstances then presented.

Over the years, however, you may have decided that you do or do not want a feeding tube, or you do or do not want to be resuscitated in a medical emergency.

Or, similar to your financial power of attorney, you may now want your adult children, not your original designee, to act as your medical “attorney.”

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Life changes. So might estate plans. Contact your FOS estate planning attorney to make sure your documents meet your current desires. Then show those young’uns how to really have fun!