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Family History  

Baby Boomers Value Family History Over Financial Inheritance

Written By Lastly.com

Have you taken the time to think about what you want to leave behind after your death? Is it money? Is it property? Is it values? Or family history? You might be surprised at what today’s Baby Boomers say.


As Baby Boomers have begun reaching retirement age in the past several years, there has been a palpable shift in later-in-life priorities. For decades, the priority of most older Americans has been to amass a large sum of money to be divided among their surviving family members upon their death. However, a recent Allianz American Legacies Study revealed that four pillars of legacy exist among today’s older Americans: values and life lessons, personal possessions of emotional value, wishes and directions to be fulfilled, and financial assets/real estate.


The surprise was that values and life lessons was listed as most important, while financial assets and real estate were listed as last priorities. In fact, nonfinancial inheritances—such as ethics, morality, faith, and religion—are 10 times more important to both Baby Boomers and their elderly parents than monetary inheritances and financial properties. According to the study, only three percent of Baby Boomers believe that they owe their family a financial inheritance.


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Family History, Family Stories, and Values Are Personal

So, why the shift in end-of-life priorities? Perhaps these changes were spurred by the recent financial crises of 2008 and 2010 as well as the housing recession. Much of America’s retirement wealth disappeared nearly overnight. Many older Americans, including Baby Boomers, saw a lifetime of scrimping and saving go up in smoke. They had no control over their own money, which resulted in a lot of frustration. So, while the turmoil in today’s financial markets can make retirement planning somewhat unpredictable, family history, family stories, and values remain solid.


Perhaps the Baby Boomer generation is now placing more value on family history, values, and life lessons because these are the things that are far more personal to them. And they are the things that remain priceless. These are the things that can’t be taken away—no matter what happens with the country or the economy.


How can you put a dollar value on grandpa’s life lessons or grandma’s life experience? And how does the importance of family history affect those who live on? What is the gain from preserving that information? And what is the loss from the failure to retain it?


Baby Boomers and Parents Aspire to Keep Family Stories Alive for Emotional Connection

What sets family stories and family wealth apart are the intrinsic emotional connections garnered by both the giver and the receiver. As we approach our elder years, we are more inclined to place a higher value on being remembered, revered, and most certainly not forgotten. And those friends and family members that we do leave behind find undeniable comfort in holding onto those memories, stories, values, and truths that have been carefully recorded and passed on.


Further, some Baby Boomers may feel uncomfortable sharing and discussing financial details. On the other hand, today’s older Americans seem to be much more relaxed talking about family traditions, family history, individual life stories and experiences, personal values, personal possessions, and any final wishes and instructions to be fulfilled.


So, how do your parents define leaving a legacy? Have you taken the time to ask them? There is no better time than the present to have that personal conversation with your parents. They may be very straightforward with you regarding their wants and desires. Or your gentle questioning may prompt them to take a personal inventory and make a few important decisions about their legacy.


Find out what your parents’ hopes, dreams, motivations, priorities, and fears are. If family history is important to you and/or your parents, now is a great time to start recording those details. Whether you write stories on paper or on the computer screen or create a video or audio recording, these items can be stored digitally and kept in great condition for decades. Plus, these stories, traditions, values, and family history can be kept alive for many generations to come.


People want to be remembered both for who they were and for what mattered to them. But today’s Baby Boomers and their parents agree that leaving a legacy is much more than leaving behind physical belongings or a financial handout. The days of leaving a monetary inheritance to one’s children seem to be left in the past with the uncertainty of saving enough money to last through retirement. Those who do save enough money for their retirement years often tend to spend that money on trips and other life experiences, rather than keeping it in the bank and living a skimpier lifestyle than during their working years.


According to Allianz’s study, 74% of elder Americans and 86% of Baby Boomers are likely to value family stories as a way of preserving family history over money or physical possessions. What today’s older Americans want is to keep their family history alive. And you can help!


At Lastly.comTM we believe that your legacy is important. We want to help you document your life story so that future generations will remember you and cherish your life.  Don't wait until it's too late to pass along your story.


Leaving a Legacy for Your Parents

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