Most of us grew up being told to “respect your elders.” Each May, however, the entire country actually celebrates the elders among us with National Older Americans Month. As the older population in the United States continues to grow at a heretofore unheard of rate, issues and concerns that impact seniors have taken on a heightened importance. Whether you are a senior yourself, or you have a loved one who is, take some extra time this May to celebrate and honor all the older Americans among us. Older Americans Month is also a great time to sit down with your estate planning attorney and update your existing estate plan.
The History of Older Americans Month
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular, those who defended our country. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.
Every May, the Administration on Aging, part of the Administration for Community Living, leads our nation’s observance of Older American’s Month. The 2018 theme, Engage at Every Age, emphasizes that you are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It also celebrates the many ways in which older adults make a difference in our communities.
Older American Month Resources
To become more involved in the Older American Month celebration, navigate to the “Older American Month” website where you will find numerous and varied resources, both to help you actively participate in the celebration and to live a healthier, more engaged, life as a senior. Once there you will find materials and activity ideas to help you celebrate at the local level as well as a “Resources” page with links to resources relating to your health, aging, your security, and giving back.
Updating Your Estate Plan
Older American Month is a perfect time to review and revise your existing estate plan. Once you have a plan in place, you must routinely review and revise that plan to ensure that it reflects your current needs and goals. As your family grows and changes over the years, so should the details of your estate plan. The estate plan that is right for you as a senior will not look the same as the plan that was a perfect fit when you first created a plan nor even the plan you had in place prior to reaching retirement age. When most people retire, their asset portfolio changes as a result of things such as relocating to a retirement destination, downsizing, taking distributions from IRAs, and/or collecting Social Security or pension benefits. You should also review the fiduciary roles in your estate plan, such as Executor, Trustee, or Agent to ensure that you don’t want to make any changes and that the individuals you originally appointed remain willing and able to serve. If you cannot afford to pay for long-term care out of pocket – and the average person cannot – Medicaid planning should be included in your estate plan if it is not already. Ultimately, only you and your estate planning attorney can decide what changes, if any, need to be made to your estate plan. With the focus on Older Americans this month, however, it’s a great time to sit down and make those estate planning decisions.
Contact Estate Planning Attorneys
Please feel free to download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, contact the experienced St. Louis estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.