Given the rapid aging of the population, attorneys who focus on estate planning and elder law are certainly in the right place at the right time.
There should be no shortage of prospective clients for estate planning and elder law attorneys in the coming years. Baby boomers are reaching retirement age, with around 10,000 people applying for Social Security every day. This volume of applications is expected to continue for about the next 20 years.
By 2030 there should be nearly twice as many senior citizens in the United States as there are today. This growth spiral is unprecedented, and it is hard to imagine a more abundant environment for estate planning and elder law firms.
The Need Exists
Many of these aging individuals do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place. Many different surveys have found that less than half of American adults have executed all the necessary estate planning documents.
While it is true that older Americans are more prepared than their younger counterparts, there are plenty of people in their 50s and beyond that do not have a plan in place. Many others have plans that are in dire need of revisions.
Even wealthy people are not well prepared according to surveys. U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth conducted a survey in 2011, targeting a representative sample of high net worth individuals. The majority of them had some type of estate plan in place, but almost 40% did not have a comprehensive plan. Just over 50% had a revocable trust, and only 28% had an irrevocable trust. This survey also found that children of wealthy parents are largely unprepared to handle their inheritances.
Given the need that exists among high net worth families, estate planning attorneys will have fantastic opportunities to develop meaningful multi-generational relationships in the coming years.
The Bottom Line
The statistics paint a very clear picture. An extraordinary number of people are going to need the services of estate planning and elder law attorneys over the next 20 years. Any attorney who would like to grow his or her practice would do well to consider the possibility of adding or adopting this area of focus given the burgeoning opportunities that exist.
Sanford M. Fisch
CEO & Co-Founder
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555