Each year, during the month of May, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) sponsors the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. Every year there is a new theme for Older Americans Month. The 2019 theme — Connect, Create, Contribute — encourages older adults and their communities to:
- Connect with friends, family, and services that support participation.
- Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
- Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.
According to the ACL website, “communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger! By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives.”
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.
Updating Your Estate Plan during Older Americans Month
If you wish to actively get involved in Older Americans Month, ACL’s website is an excellent resource. On it, you will find suggestions, resources, and material to celebrate older Americans and the communities of which they are a vital part.
In addition, Older Americans Month is an excellent time to review and update your estate plan, particularly if you have not done so since you entered your retirement years. When you reach your retirement years, there are a number of things within your estate plan that may need to be updated, such as:
- Merging your retirement plan with your estate plan – if you have yet to do so, merging your retirement plan with your estate plan ensures that the two plans work together in harmony. As you start accepting distributions from retirement accounts, for example, that change in your assets will impact your estate plan, calling for an update to that plan.
- Planning ahead for the cost of long-term care – at the time you enter your retirement years, around age 65, you stand a 50 percent chance of eventually needing long-term care (LTC) and the odds increase every year. The cost of that care may cause you to turn to Medicaid for assistance. Planning ahead by including Medicaid planning in your overall estate plan ensures that you will qualify for Medicaid if you need it.
- Executing an advance directive – if you have strong opinions about end of life medical treatment, only an advance directive can guarantee you that those opinions will be considered and your wishes will be honored when the time comes to make difficult health care decisions.
- Planning for incapacity – you may reach a point at which you can no longer safely make decisions and/or manage your finances. Instead of allowing a court to decide who will make those decisions for you and/or manage your finances, you have the opportunity to decide yourself now by including incapacity planning in your estate plan.
- Reviewing fiduciary roles – as you age, so do your friends and family. People you appointed to important fiduciary roles in your estate plan may no longer be able to serve. Reviewing and updating those roles now can prevent problems down the road.
- Adding a funeral and burial component – no one likes to contemplate their own death; however, if you have strong feelings about how your body is to be handled and/or about the type of service to be had after you are gone, incorporating a funeral and burial planning component into your estate plan ensures that your wishes will be honored.
Contact Florida Elder Law Attorneys
To learn more, please download our FREE solid estate plan checklist. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning or elder law issues, please contact the experienced Florida elder law attorneys at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.