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Longer Life Expectancy Will Present Challenges

Recently several reports have come out predicting that life expectancy is on the increase. Males born in the 1900’s could expect to live into their 60’s. A male born in 2005 can expect to live into his late 70’s. Mac Arthur Research Network on an Aging Society estimates in a recent report that Americans will live longer in the next 40 years. They estimate that women will live to be 89 – 93 on an average by the year 2050 and men 83 – 86 years. Another study which was published in the medical journal Lancet estimates that more than half of babies born since 2000 can expect to live to be over 100 years old.

What implications will these extra few years mean to our society? Longer lives (and presumably healthier) lives will change the traditional cycle of education, employment, and retirement. There will be more older persons living longer which surely will affect health care, health insurance, and medical providers that specialize in elder care. Older workers may need to stay in the work force longer and plan for retirement a little differently. The outlays which will be necessary for Medicare and Social Security could rise by $3.2 million to $8.3 million by 2050. Maybe people won’t want to retire at age 60 – 65 if they still have another 40 years to live. A postponed retirement may affect the types of investments that should be included in your portfolio. It also could affect rules about distributions from retirement accounts, pension plans, and IRA’s.

For estate plans, a longer life expectancy may lengthen the length of the relationship you have with your estate planning attorney and alter the way estate planning is done to address these challenges. The next few decades will be interesting.

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