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Are California boomers ready to commit to estate plans?

The youngest members of the baby boom generation are celebrating the last year of their 40s. First-born boomers entered retirement age two years ago; they turn 67 this year. The massive generation adds to the 65 and older population at the rate of 10,000 people per day, providing estate planning attorneys with a vast potential client list.

The truth is most people in Los Angeles and across the U.S. do not have complete estate plans. Estimates say that fewer than half the nation's adults even have a will. Boomers advancing steadily into old age may or may not continue this disturbing trend.

Baby boomers are different than the people born before them. The tens of millions of post-World War II babies born in the U.S became the country's largest generation. The boomers now consist of parents and grandparents with beneficiaries ready to inherit significant wealth.

Advances in health care, personal fitness and technology have made it possible for boomers to live longer than their predecessors. Elderly boomers of either gender are expected to live well into their 80s. A pressing need exists for estate planning documents to cover advanced age care, incapacity and asset protection and distribution.

Despite anticipated longevity, the 65 and older crowd has a greater chance to develop incapacitating conditions than younger individuals. Estate planning tools like revocable living trusts and powers of attorney allow trusted parties to take over medical and financial decisions for individuals robbed of the power to make them.

Well-rounded estate plans consist of wills, trusts and other instruments that provide lucid directions for estate fiduciaries and courts. Lawyers help individuals protect assets from unnecessary taxation and litigation.

Estate plans are not once-and-done documents. Legal experts recommend reviews at least every five years and sooner when life-changing events occur like an out-of-state move, the loss or birth of a relative, marriage or divorce or changes in health.

Source:  wealthmanagement.com, "The Golden Age of Estate Planning" Richard A. Behrendt, Jun. 07, 2013

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