A steep decline in the number of elderly people living in poverty is one of the greatest social policy success stories of the 20th Century. If current trends do not change, the success might be fleeting.
The early decades of the 20th Century saw great advances in healthcare that prolonged the average lifespan of people in the developed world. However, as more people began living long enough to be considered elderly, many of them did so in poverty.
Throughout the developed world programs and policies were put into effect that severely reduced the number of elderly people in poverty. In the United States private pension plans, Social Security and convincing people to save for retirement have combined to make elderly poverty relatively rare.
That could change in the near future as the New York Times reports in "An Aging Society Changes the Story on Poverty for Retirees."
There are pressures on all three tools that helped lower elderly poverty.
Fewer and fewer people have private pension plans through their employers. People are not saving as much as they will need for retirement. Perhaps most importantly, an aging population creates stress on Social Security, which relies on current taxes on younger workers to make payments to the elderly. Fewer young workers per every hundred elderly people means there is less money in the system to meet obligations.
It would be a good idea to understand what these changes might mean for your own retirement and estate plans. If you want to leave money to your heirs, you need enough not only for your own retirement years, but also enough to leave in an estate.
Contact an estate planning attorney to help you.
Reference: New York Times (Dec. 22, 2015) in "An Aging Society Changes the Story on Poverty for Retirees."