For baby boomers, seeing friends and family members fall by the wayside is an unwelcome and eye-opening reminder of age. One possible result is that more of them will be prompted to plan their estate, or at least make a will.
Many advisors are aware of the significant transfer of wealth that is beginning to occur as the boomers' parents die and boomers themselves age. Many advisors have made it a business priority to try and capture some of that wealth being transferred.
But financial assets aren't the only legacy people have to leave. John Warnick, a "recovering tax attorney" who is now a wealth consultant with Family Wealth Transitions & Solutions in Denver, told me a story that makes the point. "Five years ago, I was introduced to a man by some financial planners," Warnick said. "He had a five-inch-thick set of financial documents that had been sitting on his desk for two years, unsigned. When I asked him why, he said, 'I've had my CPAs go through this, and they say everything is legally correct. But if you ripped the first and the last page off, my family would never know it was my plan.' This man realized that if he was going to create a trust that would last for years and years, it needed to be filled with his vision, his voice, and his values."
As time goes on, I envision that similar issues of emotional legacy will come more and more to the forefront, whether they are separate from money, attached to money, or behind money. Your clients will need to ask themselves some difficult questions:
Olivia Mellan, a speaker, coach, and business consultant, is the author with Sherry Christie of The Client Connection: How Advisors Can Build Bridges That Last, available through the Investment Advisor Bookstore at www.invest-store.com/investmentadvisor. She also offers money psychology teleclasses and facilitates intergenerational retreats for wealthy families. E-mail Olivia at firstname.lastname@example.org.