As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, an estimated 3.5 million Boomers will enter retirement each year, in Tennessee and across the nation. As those individuals grow older, their personal needs will shift and change. In many cases, the provisions laid out within their will and other estate planning documents will also need to evolve. Nowhere is this more true than in regard to the designation of personal agents to handle health and financial decisions.
Most people create their estate plan well in advance of needing to call those decisions into service. Being prepared at an early age is a great approach, but individuals must also understand the importance of reviewing those choices as time goes on. For example, many spouses simply name each other as the designated proxy for health and financial decisions.
When a couple is lucky enough to grow old together, both spouses may experience decline in cognitive abilities at around the same time. In such cases, if one spouse is called upon to make significant decisions on the part of the other, he or she may not be able to do so. This outcome is in opposition to the intent behind naming a health or financial proxy, and is best avoided.
The only way to ensure that loved ones are properly cared for in their later years is to make periodic review of estate planning documents such as a will or power of attorney designations. Over time, the choices made within those documents may need to be altered. In the case of aging Tennessee Boomers, it may be better to shift those decision-making powers to an adult child or other trusted individual, rather than risk both spouses needing assistance at the same time.
Source: Forbes, "The Most Important Estate Planning Issue Boomers Need To Address", Kelley Long, May 8, 2016