Estate planning considerations and needs for baby boomers in Missouri

At any age, the loss of a loved one can be a trying time. As grieving family members mourn, issues of probate, inheritances and distributions to relatives can be overwhelming. The baby boomer generation – those individuals born between 1946 and 1964 – must face some unique situations as they deal with the passing of their parents.

Inheritance expectations

While most U.S. retirees expect to leave an average of $175,000 to their heirs upon their deaths – according to a recent HSBC study – many baby boomers may realize much larger inheritances from their Depression-raised parents. Depression era individuals are generally more frugal and boomers can expect to inherit more than $8 billion by the year 2030, based on estimates from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

While some heirs have no problem integrating newly acquired wealth into their current lives, many surviving family members are overwhelmed with the emotions attached to their inheritances. Feelings of loss, guilt, relief, regret and, frequently, disputes with siblings or other surviving relatives can leave people in a quandary about what to do with their parents’ investments, properties and other assets.

One way to prepare or help move on after the death of a loved one is to do some thinking about your own estate planning needs and desires.

Considerations for baby boomers

Estate planning is not just about passing family wealth onto the next generation. Common considerations include the following:

  • Family keepsakes: Missouri residents may be surprised to find that many family members care more about personal items than they do about financial inheritances. Personal keepsakes and family mementoes often mean more to family and close friends than assets of value. Talk to your children to ascertain what means most to them.
  • Long-term health care needs: Increased longevity and rising health care costs should be major considerations when establishing your estate plan. Many individuals will need long-term care, the cost of which can quickly deplete a lifetime of savings. While federal aid can help, take care while setting up an estate plan so that entitlements to Medicaid benefits are not in jeopardy. Planning for nursing home expenses can help protect your hard-earned assets.
  • Special needs: If you have a child or another relative with a disability or special needs, it is important to include them in your estate plan. A special needs trust can ensure that your family member has adequate care once you are no longer around.
  • Other provisions: Providing for a favorite charity can also be accomplished through estate planning and more Americans are providing for their pets through special provisions in wills and trusts. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted a rise over the past few years in the number of wills that provide for the financial care of family cats and dogs. The practice is not just for the rich and famous anymore and, usually, money is left to a caretaker to cover food and veterinarian bills.

Consult a lawyer

No matter your age or financial situation, an estate plan can help smooth the way for your family once you are gone. If you do not have an estate plan or have not recently reviewed your plan with a professional, consult an experienced estate planning attorney. A Missouri lawyer knowledgeable about estate planning, trust administration and probate matters can help ensure that your wishes and desires are fulfilled.