Five Reasons Baby Boomers Need To Review Estate Plans (And It’s Not About Taxes)

Kaycee Krysty, Forbes Magazine  3/29/2012

Conventional wisdom has it that baby boomers are about to receive one of the largest waves of inheritance in history. But in a recent speech, “Capacity for Care: Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow,” Paul G. Schervish, Boston College professor and renowned researcher on wealth and philanthropy in America, made a startling pronouncement: Boomers will give away much more than they receive.

That’s a call to action to review our estate plans. Wills, trusts and other documents put in place years ago may no longer reflect who you are, what you care about or what you have today. With so much at stake, being intentional about who gets what is more important than ever. It’s not about our parent’s generation anymore. It’s about us.

In fact, Schervish’s remarks really hit home for me. Just before our recent trip to Hawaii, my husband Michael and I suddenly discovered that although we had talked about changes in our plan, we had never gotten around to communicating them to our attorney. Yikes! We found in our file notes about possible changes and marked up old documents, but no new ones. You can bet that this resulted in a flurry of activity before we got on a jet to fly over the ocean.

As I looked over those changes I was struck by how different our thinking is now, in our late 50s and early 60s, than it was the last time we tackled these issues.
In midlife planning tends to be mainly about making sure your affairs are in order and leaving enough for those left behind. If you have kids, their needs are front and center. Now, as boomers enter into transition, new perspectives and different priorities emerge. Today, it’s more about you, your security, and your legacy.
Here are five things Michael and I noticed as we completed the exercise with our attorney. Perhaps some of them will fit for you.

1. Relationships change. Perhaps you left money to people or gave them responsibilities that no longer make sense. Say your connection with these people isn’t what it used to be. Or maybe they no longer need your help. That is an important reason to change your plans. Do you have the right people in place?

2. Kids grow up. You may find that your old documents are laced with protective measures for children who were still minors. Now that they are young adults, you know a lot about their character. With luck, they are fully launched in their own lives and careers, or close to it. Are those protective devices still required?

3. You know a lot more about your health. For better or worse, as we age our physical future becomes more apparent. In addition, medical science has greatly advanced in its predictive ability. You might have more information than you had 10 years ago to consider the future–and it’s not just death to be thinking about. Have you made provisions for a time when you may not be able to think for yourself?

4. You have more, less or different stuff. Personal property, as attorneys like to call it, tends to accumulate. You might be surprised at the sentimental value your family members place on some of your belongings. It is still true that families go to war just as often about Aunt Millie’s teapot as they do about money. You can avoid that by making some simple decisions and putting them in writing. Decide who gets what.

5. You are thinking about your legacy. The reality is that in order to leave a legacy you need to live it, and that could mean using some of your financial resources now. The older you are the more financially feasible it becomes to give things away during your lifetime, whether it’s to charity or to the people you care about. At 50 you were holding on for dear life to be sure you have plenty for retirement. At 70 those concerns change. Should you consider making some lifetime gifts, rather than waiting until the end?
Even if none of these issues fit your situation, you still may want to change something. Estate planning is a discipline where the state of the art changes constantly. There are new tools and techniques available; you may actually be able to simplify your plan. Our will was several pages shorter this time around–always a good thing in my book.
As stressful as this subject can be, Schervish leaves us with a comforting thought. What he calls the “post-boomers”–ages 28 to 45–are in better shape financially than we might think. Adjusted for inflation they have a greater level of wealth than boomers did at the same age. He also notes that they may be more financially careful since “they envision a longer lifespan and have faced the forces of financial insecurity since the 1999 recession, the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, and the attacks and aftermath of 2001.”
The bottom line for boomers? Take care of yourself. Think about your legacy. The kids will be all right.

4th tip for the workplace

Tips for Women

Promote yourself
This is a great skill and essential in a situation where it is necessary to maintain status within a group. Being confident in promoting yourself will improve levels of communication with men in the workplace.

Avoid tag endings
One of the ways women undermine their own abilities in the work place is by using tag endings. These are the couple of little words that are often added on to the end of a sentence like “isn’t it”, “is that ok”, “maybe”, “I think”. These tiny words serve to make you look unsure and change a sentence or what could be a powerful statement in to a question.

Be direct and concise
When communicating with men, come straight to the point and leave out unnecessary details and background information. Men usually communicate in a very direct and to women’s ears, a blunt way.

Your final tip is… “Don’t take male comments so personally”
Men don’t take their comments to each other personally and can’t understand why women do. Women tend to allow their feelings to be hurt by things that men say. To help women succeed at work being able to separate business from personal issues is a great skill.

Tips for Men

Build rapport
Because relationships are important to women, if you make the effort to get to know her, or if she feels she has something in common with you, she is more likely to respond better to your requests, selling methods or ideas.

Avoid monopolizing conversations
Men need to actively practice involving women in open discussion; remembering that it is not her natural tendency to speak up over the top of others.

Don’t lecture
If a man goes on and on about the incident what happens in a woman’s head is she starts to switch from feeling responsible to defending her actions and moves from feeling remorse to resentment.

The final tip for men is “Be specific with praise
This is almost the opposite of the way we would praise a man. Because women like to be able to repeat what they did well, the more specific and the more detail you can give them about what they did well or what you liked the better it is for a woman. For example “Jan, the report you handed in was great. Having the graphs in there and the comparison of the two departments made a big impact.

Are you ready to learn even more tips? Why not get started and improve your skills with a workshop that has the timely information to make you stand out in your organization and move your business or career forward.

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