New York elder law estate planning has involved the same issues for decades–planning for inheritances, retirement, savings on taxes, and ensuring long-term care needs are met. However, while the underlying issues have remained steady, the actual means to accomplish those goals have changed over the years. That is because of two main factors: (1) Changing laws, rules, and regulations, and (2) Changing demographics and social dynamics.
The changing legal landscape is straightforward. Different tax details, trust options, and other issues affect what can actually be done to deal with these issues. Changing social mores is a bit more complex but just as important. As family dynamics change, elder law estate planning must take the new cultural traditions into account. Take, for example, the growing trend of families “waiting” to have children
More and more couples are waiting later in life to have children–often because they are placing more focus on maximizing their education and advancing in their career. Economic concerns are also in play. Children obvious have very clear implications on family funds, and many are waiting until they feel more financially stable before trying to add children to their family. All of this has led the average age of first time parents to rise from 21 years old to 25 years old over the past few years. Many residents wait significantly longer, with parents in their 40s and 50s not uncommon.
Does this trend have an impact on elder law or estate planning? Absolutely.
As one writer shared, waiting to have children means that one will be much older when raising the child. That also means that children will likely be faced with long-term care issues for their parents at a younger age than in the past. Of course there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to these sorts of questions, but the age of children must be factored into elder law planning issues to ensure that resources and wishes are in place so that one’s golden years can be spent as well as possible.
The article author notes that, at the age of 27, she was thrown into a mix of issues to help her ailing 79-year old father. That involved driving him to doctor’s appointments, helping him at the grocery store, and eventually moving him into a smaller apartment.
She summarizes her situation by noting that, “My father continually reminds me that he can fend for himself, but his protestations fail to dismantle the layer of worry that has set up camp in my brain.”
These changing dynamics will affect care plans. For example, the 27-year old daughter in this case knows that, in many ways, she is lucky. Her father is still well enough to do some work and live on his own. He has funds to pay for a person to clean his apartment and paying for a cab ride is not a problem. In addition, he has long-term care insurance so that he can pay for live-in help if necessary.
Many others are not so lucky. An adult child in their mid-twenties is still very much struggling to find steady employment and get their own lives on track. Having to help with an ailing parent may be overwhelming. For that reason, it may be even more important for parents who have children later in life to be prudent about their planning.
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