How your Longevity May Devalue your Estate

Most New Yorkers expect to live until a ripe old age. What happens, though, when a person outlives their projected life expectancy? In many cases, the assets that ordinarily would have been passed down in the person’s estate instead become the source from which living expenses are paid. As a result, a person who long outlives their life projections can inadvertently cause considerable financial impact on the beneficiaries of his or her estate.

The Worry
Of course, this is not to say that elders should not endeavor to live the longest and happiest lives they can muster. Medical breakthroughs are enabling people to survive catastrophic medical emergencies at a higher rate, while pharmaceutical research is producing drugs that better control latent medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. There is, however, the concern among many New Yorkers that modern medicine may produce the unintended consequence of outliving their assets, thereby depleting their estate.

Longevity Insurance
According to a recent article in Kiplinger Magazine, there is a modern solution to this growing concern. Many financial service companies – citing primarily advances in medicine – have begun to offer policies in what is commonly called “longevity insurance.” According to the article, thirty percent of women and twenty percent of men can expect to survive into their nineties. The purpose of longevity insurance, then, is to insure against the financial strain of such longevity by paying a monthly benefit to cover healthcare and living expenses once the policyholder reaches a predetermined age.

The typical longevity insurance policy requires the payment of a large lump-sum premium. Once the premium is collected, the policy guarantees disbursements of income on a monthly basis in the event the policyholder reaches a certain age (usually 85). If the policyholder lives well beyond the age on the policy, the insurance company must still make the monthly income payments to the policyholder, even if the payment of such income begins to exceed the initial lump-sum premium payment. If, on the other hand, the policyholder fails to reach the agreed-upon age, the insurance company typically pockets the entirety of the lump-sum premium.

New York City estate planning attorneys understand that the value of longevity insurance is exceptionally personal and tied to one’s individual circumstances. For example, persons with major health issues, past and/or present, may wish to forego such coverage, while persons in good health may find such coverage more attractive. Similarly, those with a greater number of estate beneficiaries may be more inclined to insure against longevity than those with comparably fewer estate beneficiaries.

New York Estate Planning
A New York estate planning attorney is best equipped to evaluate one’s estate situation and to determine – in light of New York’s particular laws – whether longevity insurance is a viable and prudent option. After all, what good is an ironclad will if there is a reasonable likelihood that one’s estate assets may not be around for one’s beneficiaries to enjoy? A good estate planner is there to guard your assets against any contingencies that may arise. Don’t overlook the most fortunate of contingencies: that you may far outlive your life expectancy.

New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. represents clients in Queens and Brooklyn and throughout New York State in Trusts and Estates matters and Surrogate’s Court proceedings. He has over 30 years of experience dealing with these issues.

If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about a New York estate, please contact Attorney Haas at (212) 355-2575 or email:, for an initial consultation.

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