People sometimes talk about retirement, end-of-life, and estate planning as being three distinct different practices, but in a very real sense they’re all branches of the same tree. If you had unlimited wealth you might have a “bundle” of resources set aside that you considered to be your estate that you knew for sure you would never need to touch. If that was the case you could be more compartmentalized in your thinking. However, for most of us, even those of considerable means, how your active retirement and twilight years play out is going to impact the anatomy of your estate.
At the present time the average life expectancy is 78.4 years. Of course this includes people of all ages, so the older you get the more likely it is that you will live beyond this average. The oldest old, people who are at least 85 years of age, are the fastest-growing segment of our society and medical science is making advances each and every day. This expanded life expectancy is fantastic on the one hand, but on the other hand when you live to such an advanced age it becomes more likely that you’ll spend some time in a long-term care facility; indeed, around half of the oldest old suffer from some form of dementia.
So if you’re planning your estate while you’re still engaged in your working years while simultaneously planning for your retirement you should include the possibility of incapacity and long-term care. Taking all this into consideration a clear picture emerges: everything is connected and your legacy is likely to be impacted by factors that are unknown to you as you are making your initial retirement plans.
There can be a wide swing with regard to how much money you need to be prepared for all the eventualities of aging while remaining capable of passing along a suitable legacy to your loved ones. It is important to take all contingencies into account and make prudent plans with full knowledge of all possibilities that may present themselves.