Older Americans, defined as those age 65 and older, are by far the fastest growing segment of the American population. In fact, experts tell us that by the year 2050, the number of older Americans will exceed the number of younger Americans (age 21 and younger) for the first time in history. Each year, the month of May is designated as “Older Americans Month” in the U.S. and provides an opportunity to celebrate, get to know, and honor our older family members, friends, and neighbors. It also serves as a reminder to review and revise your estate plan if you yourself are among the honorees during Older Americans Month.
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.
Every May, the Administration on Aging, part of the Administration for Community Living, leads our nation’s observance of Older American’s Month. The 2018 theme, Engage at Every Age, emphasizes that you are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It also celebrates the many ways in which older adults make a difference in our communities.
Older American Month Resources
If you wish to become more involved in Older American Month, you will find a wealth of resources on the website dedicated to the celebration. You will find links to resources dedicated to helping with a wide variety of issues that impact the lives of older Americans, including long-term care planning, starting a second career, and retirement planning just to name a few. You can also find helpful local resources through the Eldercare Locator website. If you are interested in putting together an Older Americans Month event in your area, you will even find ideas as well as materials to help.
Updating Your Estate Plan
If you are a senior yourself, or are nearing retirement age, Older Americans Month is also a great time to sit down with your estate planning attorney and review your current estate plan. Over time, your needs and goals change as do the assets that make up your estate. Transitioning into your retirement years is a time when this is particularly likely to be the case as people often relocate to a chosen retirement destination, begin taking distributions from pensions or IRA’s, and/or make other significant changes to their assets and income that should be reflected in their estate plan. By the same token, your children have all probably reached adulthood, meaning they can now inherit directly from your estate. You may also now have grandchildren that you wish to include by name and/or provide for specifically in your estate plan. At the same time, you may need to review fiduciary roles within your plan, such as Executor, Trustee, or Agent, to make sure changes are not needed. While the nation is honoring you and your contribution to the country, take the time to make sure you are honoring yourself and your loved ones by ensuring that your estate plan reflects your current needs and wishes.
Contact Estate Planning Lawyers
Please feel free to download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you wish to sit down and review your current estate plan, contact an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.
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