Most people think of estate planning as wills, trusts, and other documents that may be needed after death. But some of the most important documents are those that can be used during life. These can be especially important as more and more American families are serving as caregivers for family members and may need estate planning that encompasses those family members as their health declines.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that four in ten adults are caring for a family member with health issues. That thirty-nine percent figure has increased from thirty percent, just since 2012. The ages of adults acting as caregivers ranges from 30-64, a majority of which are probably still full-time workers. About 3000 adults living in the United Sates were surveyed in 2012.
One finding of the survey is that caregivers in this age group are relying more on technology to find information on carrying out their responsibilities. The statistics showed that they search for information on medical problems and treatments, and read about drugs their family members are taking. Not only are they using computers but also cell phone apps. Not only do they use technology for information about the care of their loved one, but also the care of themselves. A number of caregivers report researching ways to deal with their own stress caused by being a caregiver.
Part of the growth in the number of caregivers has to do with the growth of the senior demographic. In 2000, only 12.4% of the population was 65 and older. By 2030, when many young adults will be hitting middle-age and need to care for an older family member, the percentage is expected to be 19%.
While all of these numbers make it difficult to visualize the issues facing them, the family members who are likely to need care should be planning ahead now. Living wills, heath care powers of attorney, HIPAA releases and other estate planning documents will make the caregiver’s role much easier. It will also assure the family member in need of care that his or her wishes will be carried out. Now is the time to consult an estate planning attorney to make sure that needs are met in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.