Justin, My husband and I are both in our seventies, and we’re finally ready to set up our estate plan, but we don’t have any children. We plan to leave everything to our brothers and sisters, who are all around the same age as us. Are there special concerns we need to think about in this situation? – Rebecca
Rebecca, I’m glad to hear that you and your husband are ready to get serious about planning, and you are smart to be thinking about special considerations given your circumstances. There are some specific things you should think about when leaving an estate to older beneficiaries.
When leaving an estate to a younger generation, often the primary concern is protecting your beneficiaries from their own weak money management skills and from outside threats like bankruptcy, divorce, and lawsuits. Those types of concerns are not usually as important when leaving an estate to much older beneficiaries.
With older beneficiaries, though, other risks are more serious. For one, though we hate to think about it, your siblings may not outlive you. You must be careful to include well-thought-out alternate plans for your estate that would be triggered if one or more of your siblings die before you.
For two, you have to consider the possibility that your siblings could be receiving long-term care at the time of your death, and your estate could be quickly expended (or wasted, depending on how you look at it) on expensive nursing home or assisted living bills. If that’s not your preference, you should talk to an elder law attorney about whether you need to reconsider where you direct your estate or think about more creative, safer ways to pass on your estate to avoid this outcome.