Many baby boomers have avoided creating a living will or advance health care directive because they feel young and healthy, and don’t believe they will need these important estate planning documents for a long time.
Boomers are renowned for clinging to youth, but these critical end-of-life documents can be necessary at any age. Accidents and illnesses happen to people of all ages, and not being prepared for them places an unnecessary hardship on many families and caregivers.
Living wills and health care directives are important because they let you make your own decisions, while you are still able to do so, about the person or people you want to make your financial and health care decisions for you, in case you cannot. They also give your agent or agents access to your health care information, which they otherwise cannot have due to federal privacy laws.
In addition, an estate plan can help boomers who face a number of different issues than their parents did, including:
Divorce – the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population filing for divorce is over the age of 50. Can new retirees actually afford a divorce? Since their earning years are mostly behind them, older couples who divorce must examine carefully if they can afford to live on half the assets they accumulated together or accumulate more debt to pay for an additional household. Late-life divorces can also have an impact on social lives as friends and family choose sides.
Children’s inheritance – once your children have grown, you have a true picture of their adult personalities and behavior. Leaving money to a child with substance abuse problems can be a concern. In addition, if one child has become a primary caregiver, they may have been named on a parent’s bank accounts or deeds, making them the sole beneficiary when the parent passes. This can cause family discord when it comes time to distribute the estate, so a carefully thought out estate plan is essential in these cases.
Spousal inheritance – although it is customary, you do not have to name your spouse as your primary beneficiary on retirement accounts and pension plans (although your spouse will have to sign a form acknowledging that they are aware they have not been named primary beneficiary). There are even tax-saving reasons for those with large estates to not name a spouse as primary beneficiary, which your Florida estate planning attorney can discuss with you.
No matter what age you are, creating an estate plan is essential. By making it clear what your wishes are, you can eliminate the need for your family to make difficult decisions on their own.
With the proper guidance, you can protect your finances and spare your loved ones the frustration of having to make costly and difficult decisions. Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.