Right now, no matter when you read this, we are living in the future, a future that is much more complicated than the people trying to envision it even 40 or 50 years ago could imagine.
One of the most significant changes of the modern world is that child mortality has dropped immensely, while life expectancy has increased. This means that more of us are making it to adulthood, and once we do, we are, statistically, living longer lives.
It is important to note that while more of us are living into adulthood, especially compared to 100 years ago when it was common for several members of a family to die in childhood, increases in life expectancy at the other end are not moving as quickly. Most adults still pass away some time between 65 and 85, with a modest number of people making it all the way to 100 years of age.
Should you plan to live to 100?
Depending on where you are in your financial planning journey, you may be concerned about whether you should be planning to live to 100. Some people assume that by the time they reach their late 80s, medical advances will make living to 100 much more possible, if not likely.
This is a tricky thing to plan around. It is impossible to predict what advances may arise in the medical community, especially because none of us know all the factors that may play into our life expectancy.
Those who want to plan conservatively are encouraged to do so if that is what is important to them. Others may acknowledge that they are unlikely to live past 85 and do not need to plan for an additional 15 or 20 years of living.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some simple questions you can consider.
Young estate planning or elderly estate planning
For those who are building an estate plan in their 30s or 40s, their golden years are still several decades away. Fifty years ago, it was not possible to plan for the internet or how that would revolutionize every industry. It, ultimately, increased life expectancy overall, by making health care more efficient.
It is reasonable to assume that major changes you cannot predict may occur that will make living to 100 possible or likely, especially if you are not even halfway to that point.
However, for those who are already older and within 15 or 20 years of retirement, it may be unnecessarily difficult to save for living to 100. While it is always good to build something to leave to the ones you love, it is not wise to save everything and miss out on enjoying the fruits of life, just so you can potentially keep living.
This is not a simple question to answer, because it combines practical things like estate planning with existential issues about quality of life and how you want to approach death. Ultimately, before you decide how to approach your later years, you must determine how you want to live until you reach them, and what you are willing to sacrifice in order to do so.
Wherever you are in your estate planning journey, don't shy away from this issue simply because it is uncomfortable. Instead, consider using legal guidance to understand your options and plan for the life you wish to live, both now and in the days and years ahead.