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Decline in dementia may affect estate planning

If you can't remember a day in which Americans remembered so much, your mind is not deceiving you. A recent study shows that the rate of dementia is falling nationwide. Dementia is a debilitating brain disease that causes a gradual decline in memory and thinking ability, mostly affecting people over the age of 65.

Dementia rates have fallen nearly 25 percent since 2000, which coincides with an increase in life expectancy of 2.1 years since then. This decrease in dementia is due to higher rates of education and better heart health, according to the report. Because Americans are more educated than ever before, we find ourselves with better job prospects and lifelong, stimulating intellectual hobbies.

With 15 percent of the US population over the age of 65, it is important to understand how a better quality of life as we age can affect the estate planning process.

Assets need to go further

At 65 years old, we can begin collecting Social Security benefits, but that money alone is not enough to live on. Therefore, we rely on 401(K) plans and long-term savings accounts to live out our golden years. Can your assets and investments accommodate an increased life expectancy?

Healthcare directives, powers of attorney

If you have not discussed your end of life wishes with your loved ones, you can include a healthcare directive as part of your will and estate plan. You can designate an executor of your directive through a power of attorney. This person will ensure that your wishes are carried out as you intend.

It is important to discuss different healthcare scenarios that could occur. Consider your family history with specific ailments and think about what each one could mean for your estate.

Don't procrastinate

Although Americans are living longer and healthier lives, that is not a reason to delay estate planning. 50 percent of adults in the United States die without an estate plan. That means your property could be split in a way in which you hadn't intended.

Although discussing issues related to the end of life can be uncomfortable, it can save your family from having to make hard decisions during a time of grief. Death in the family can bring uncertainty, but with an estate plan in place, you can give your family members the peace of mind that your best interests will not be forgotten.

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