It has long been known that many people don’t write an estate plan because they don’t think that they are old enough. They envision this as something that they should do as a grandparent or at least after they retire from their career. This means that estate planning tends to become a bit more common with age, with more and more people finally getting around to making that plan.
But there has been an interesting trend lately, with reports claiming that “fewer older Americans are writing wills” in recent decades. There has been a notable decline in estate planning, even among those who are over 70 years old. With American life expectancy around 76 years old and dropping, this is certainly an age group that has traditionally been interested in estate planning, but that interest is waning.
Planning for an heir who has special needs
A decline in estate planning can be problematic for many reasons, but one is that it puts heirs with special needs at a specific risk. These individuals may have been taken care of by their elderly parents for their entire lives. But if those parents do not have an estate plan in place, what happens to their heir when they pass away?
There can also be financial concerns. For instance, a special needs trust is a way to leave assets to someone without disrupting their ability to get benefits from the government. If someone does not have an estate plan and hasn’t created this type of trust, they risk either not leaving their heir any assets at all or forcing them to spend those assets down before they qualify for benefits again. Either way, this can be an oversight that is highly detrimental to that heir.
Advance planning is important, especially for those who have an heir with special needs. They need to know exactly what options they have and what steps to take to get this plan in place.