Estimated life expectancy for older patients with diabetes informs decisions about treatment goals, cancer screening, long-term and advanced care, and inclusion in clinical trials. Easily implementable, evidence-based, diabetes-specific approaches for identifying patients with limited life expectancy are needed. Develop and validate an electronic health record (EHR)-based tool to identify older adults with diabetes who have limited life expectancy. Predictive modeling based on survival analysis using Cox-Gompertz models in a retrospective cohort. Adults with diabetes aged ≥ 65 years from Kaiser Permanente Northern California: a 2015 cohort (N = 121,396) with follow-up through 12/31/2019, randomly split into training (N = 97,085) and test (N = 24,311) sets. Validation was conducted in the test set and two temporally distinct cohorts: a 2010 cohort (n = 89,563; 10-year follow-up through 2019) and a 2019 cohort (n = 152,357; 2-year follow-up through 2020). Demographics, diagnoses, utilization and procedures, medications, behaviors and vital signs; mortality. In the training set (mean age 75 years; 49% women; 48% racial and ethnic minorities), 23% died during 5 years follow-up. A mortality prediction model was developed using 94 candidate variables, distilled into a life expectancy model with 11 input variables, and transformed into a risk-scoring tool, the Life Expectancy Estimator for Older Adults with Diabetes (LEAD). LEAD discriminated well in the test set (C-statistic = 0.78), 2010 cohort (C-statistic = 0.74), and 2019 cohort (C-statistic = 0.81); comparisons of observed and predicted survival curves indicated good calibration. LEAD estimates life expectancy in older adults with diabetes based on only 11 patient characteristics widely available in most EHRs and claims data. LEAD is simple and has potential application for shared decision-making, clinical trial inclusion, and resource allocation.