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Using life expectancy calculators in estate planning

Many California residents may be familiar with the old saying that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. However, while death may be a foregone conclusion, no one knows for sure when his or her time will come. That uncertainty has many implications when it comes to estate planning.

The process of planning for one's estate involves making decisions in advance about critical end-of-life issues. A good estate plan addresses who will care for you if you become incapacitated and are unable to care for yourself, how your finances will be managed if you cannot handle them on your own and how your assets should be distributed after you die. Clearly, if you are better able to pinpoint the age at which your death or incapacity will occur, you will be better able to plan.

Life expectancy calculators are becoming more sophisticated. By considering factors such as family history and lifestyle choices, a life expectancy calculator can provide an estimate of both your expected lifespan and your remaining years of good health. It also can suggest certain lifestyle changes that will increase your odds of living a longer, healthier life without requiring care or significant medical expenses.

While you will not be able to determine the exact date of your death, by using a life expectancy calculator in estate planning, you will have insight into when certain estate planning documents will be necessary, how long your assets must last to provide for your long-term care or for the care of a spouse or adult child, and how much your assets will appreciate before your death, which will impact both the size of your estate and the tax burden to your heirs. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide guidance on the best way to address your end-of-life issues given your individual circumstances.

Source: CBS Moneywatch, "How long will you live?," Steve Vernon, Feb. 18, 2013

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