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A longer life means a shift in estate planning

Americans are currently living longer than ever before thanks to revolutions in healthcare and medical technology. Researchers estimate that the average lifespan is now nearly twelve years longer than it was in the 1940s. As a result, the estate planning approach taken in decades past is no longer valid for many New Jersey residents.

Individuals should take a second look at their existing retirement and estate plans and begin to think about these two areas as a combined set of interests. Living longer means that the savings set aside for retirement may have to stretch for many more years than in previous generations. Many people will continue to work far into what is considered to be a standard retirement age.

In terms of estate planning, a longer life means more time to make financial adjustments, which is a good thing. However, a longer life also means more time for changes in relationships and family structure. Multiple marriages can change the manner in which one wants his or her assets distributed, but unless those changes are documented within an estate plan, loved ones can be left out. Even worse, former spouses can end up inheriting assets that were intended for grandchildren or one's current spouse. 

When it comes to estate planning, it pays to play an active role in reviewing one's documents to make sure that they are in line with current goals and wishes. Older Americans should also consider whether procuring life insurance and long-term care insurance is a good fit for their expected needs. The cost of both of these types of coverage increases as we grow older, and it can be difficult to find adequate coverage once an individual reaches an advanced age.

The best way to create a solid estate planning package is to begin that process as early as possible. For those who are fortunate enough to enjoy a longer lifespan, there will be plenty of time to make adjustments as needed. By taking steps to address these needs, New Jersey residents can rest assured that their assets will pass on as intended after they are gone.

Source: myrtlebeachonline.com, "Real Life: Aging is different in the 21st century", Gary Newman, Aug. 25, 2015

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