Current trends may force an increase in the number of elderly people living in poverty in the U.S., reversing recent success stories.
Healthcare prolonged the average lifespan in the first decades of the 20th Century but there was also a considerable increase in elderly people living in poverty. Policies put into effect in the developing world reversed the trend. 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.
An estate planning attorney could give you some insight into this issue.
Reference: New York Times (Dec. 22, 2015) in "An Aging Society Changes the Story on Poverty for Retirees."