Over the last century, the average life expectancy of an American has almost doubled thanks to advances in science and medicine as well as an overall increase in the standard of living we all enjoy. Growing old no longer has to have the negative connotation it once had. Each year, the month of May is recognized as “Older Americans Month” during which we honor the older people in our lives and celebrate getting older ourselves. If you are at, or near, retirement age yourself, Older Americans Month is also a great time to review your estate plan to ensure it reflects your current needs and goals.
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
If you wish to become more involved in Older American Month, you will find a wealth of resources on website dedicated to the celebration. You will find links to resources dedicated to your physical and mental health, to the aging process, to your security, and to volunteer opportunities. You can also find helpful local resources through the Eldercare Locator website. If you are interested in putting together an Older Americans Month event in your area, you will find ideas as well as materials to help.
Updating Your Estate Plan
Creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the most important gifts you can give your loved ones. Once you have a plan in place, however, 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. Likewise, as your estate grows, you will need to make changes to your estate plan to incorporate the increase in your estate assets.
Most of us, however, don’t think about the need to update our estate plans once that plan is in place. This is unfortunate because an out of date estate plan can be just as problematic as not having an estate plan at all. To ensure that you don’t leave behind an out of date estate plan, why not use Older Americans Month as a reminder to review and revise your plan. Specifically, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need to remove or add any beneficiaries?
- Have any beneficiaries reached the age of majority?
- Are all my major assets accounted for in the plan?
- Has anyone in a fiduciary role passed away or moved?
- Have you moved since your last review?
- Do you have a Medicaid planning component?
- Have you executed an advance directive indicating your treatment preferences and/or appointing an Agent?
- Have you considered making arrangements for your funeral and burial?
Make an appointment with your estate planning attorney during Older Americans Month to review your plan and make sure your plan is current.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you wish to review and revise your estate plan, contact the New York estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.