Estate and Advance Care Planning for Empty Nesters

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Estate and Advance Care Planning for Empty Nesters

As an empty nester, you’ve said goodbye to your kids as they lead their own lives away from home. While this is an exciting time to establish yourself as an individual apart from your kids, this is also an important reminder to look ahead to the future. More specifically, you should consider the unique estate and advance care planning needs for empty nesters. 

There’s a profound sense of accomplishment that comes with being an empty nester. Your job as a parent is largely over, and now you can focus on yourself. While this transition can be difficult for some, it can be a new adventure for yourself and your family. 

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In this guide, we’ll explore the estate and advance care planning needs for empty nesters. These are different from those actively raising children, and they’re also different from those without any children. Estate and advance care planning for empty nesters doesn’t have to be complicated, but you do have to be proactive. 

Why Is Estate Planning and Advance Care Planning Important for Empty Nesters?

To begin, why is estate planning and advance care planning important as an empty nester? As your children leave home, your care needs and your family’s support needs change. It’s an excellent time to update your estate plan or even make one for the first time.

Empty nesters whose children move far away may find that their support system changes or that their priorities change. You might be separated from your loved ones by several states, meaning you need to adjust your emergency plans. 

Not only should you plan for the future, but you should adjust to your new normal. Estate and advance care planning is important for everyone, but it’s especially important during life’s major transitions. 

Estate Planning Considerations for Empty Nesters

What unique considerations are there with estate planning for empty nesters? As your children start their adult lives, evaluate how you want to allocate their inheritances. You might want to factor in your contributions to their education costs or other gifts you give them, like housing assistance.

Some unique factors of empty nester’s estate plans are:

  • Grandchildren: If you have grandchildren, will you provide for them in your estate as well?
  • Moving states: It’s common to change locations in retirement, and you might need to consider your estate planning needs in different jurisdictions.
  • Insurance: Similarly, insurance and retirement accounts might need to be adjusted. Plans you took out when your children were small are likely much larger than you need now.
  • Marriage changes: If you’ve changed partners later in life, you’ll want to adjust your plans to reflect this. 

End-of-Life Planning Considerations for Empty Nesters

Estate planning is just the first step. You also need to consider how your end-of-life plan changes based on your new empty nester status. 

When you designate your decision-makers, consider the maturity and availability of your children. This could be a good time to educate your children about the medical system and navigating the real world.

In some cases, you might want to appoint another trusted loved one as your healthcare representative, estate executor, or so on. There is no right or wrong choice, but make sure this is someone you can trust. 

Estate and End-of-Life Planning Checklist for Empty Nesters

As an empty nester, here is a basic estate and end-of-life planning checklist to help you create your own plan. Remember, it’s helpful to review your thoughts and wishes with an attorney in your state to discuss your own situation. 

Healthcare and medical

  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • POLST or MOLST
  • Designation of Guardian
  • Organ or Tissue Donation
  • Medical Information

Financial and legal

  • Long-term Health Resources
  • Durable Financial Power of Attorney
  • A Will or Trust (You can make a legal will online in minutes)
  • Location of Documents
  • Contact Information
  • Assets and Debts
  • Dependents

Digital legacy

  • Email Accounts
  • Digital Account Access
  • Photos and Files
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Digital Assets
  • Create an Inventory
  • Delete Unused Accounts

Legacy items

  • Physical Marker
  • Messages and Stories
  • Defining Characteristics
  • Death Anniversary Wishes
  • Obituary or Death Notice

Funeral plan

  • Funeral Details
  • Burial, Cremation, or Donation
  • Casket or Urn
  • Funeral Gifts
  • Location
  • Funeral Mood
  • Planners and Speakers
  • Payment Arrangements

Frequently Asked Questions: Estate and Advance Care Planning for Empty Nesters

Getting started with estate and advance care planning is often the hardest part. Here are a few more tips to keep you going. When in doubt, talk to an attorney for customized advice. 

How can you talk to an empty nester about estate and advance care planning?

Sometimes just getting started with a conversation can feel intimidating. If you want to talk to your parents about estate and advance care planning, you could ask them for their advice so that you can make your own plans.

If your parents want you to serve as their power of attorney, personal representative, or another decision-maker, ask them for more information about their wishes to be sure you understand. It can be tough to be an adult child who doesn’t get along well with their siblings. Talk to your parents about any concerns you have about being able to visit them or what might happen if your kids can’t reach a consensus.

How do you find an attorney specializing in estate planning for empty nesters?

When looking for an attorney, try to limit your search to those who specialize in probate law or estate planning. They’ll be most up-to-date on statutory and case law changes.

Most probate attorneys will be adept at helping empty nesters because many people delay estate and advance care planning until their later years, which also happen to be when their children are grown and flown.

Planning for Empty Nesters

Are you an empty nester? Whether you’re an empty nester yourself or you’re an adult child of an empty nester, it’s important to start your planning as soon as possible. This checklist is designed to help you target the specific needs of empty nesters, making sure you’re covered no matter what. 

Remember you can start your end-of-life plan for free online. Create a free Cake plan today to begin your own planning, share documents with others, and customize your wishes. 

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