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GenSights - Making Boomer Magic

Sharing generational insights to help businesses make magic with Baby Boomers

Using an Ending to Inspire New Beginnings: Helping Boomers Face Some Difficult Subjects

familyphotoI didn't anticipate that my uncle’s unexpected passing would inspire a blog article. But the truth is, many Baby Boomers are facing the same reality that I am: an era is ending. Our parents’ generation—many of whom are now in their mid- to late- 80's, 90's, or older—is passing on, despite the fact that these days, people are living longer.

Some remain healthy and independent up to the end; others require lots of care. Thankfully my uncle was in the former category. Sure, his health wasn’t perfect, but he remained extremely independent, living on his own, still feeling that he had "lots to do". All of this made his passing something of a surprise, as well as a sadness.

Because my uncle and aunt had no children of their own, my sister and I were often involved in their care. My uncle was my aunt's primary caregiver as she was the first to become ill; then pass away. As I’ve gone through the process of losing first one, then the other, I’ve had a number of revelations that I hope will be helpful to all those Baby Boomers out there who are facing similar situations. I know, we really don't like to think about this stuff, let alone talk about it. But this really is important.

1) Health care proxies: When my aunt became seriously ill and was near death the first time, (she amazed all of us as she bounced back more than once,) both my aunt and uncle finally drew up their health care proxies. We had no idea what their wishes were, so having these documents to guide us was really a blessing, particularly as my uncle fell ill and we were faced with difficult decisions about his care. No matter how young you are, or feel, it’s a good idea to have one in place. I’m talking about you, Boomers, not just your parents. And while you're at it, discuss organ donation, too.

2) Pre-paid/planned funerals: I am very grateful that my uncle had a pre-paid/pre-planned funeral. As close family members, this responsibility might have otherwise fallen on my sister and me. Because of my uncle’s forethought, the arrangements were pretty much set, aside from a few minor details,

Since Baby Boomers don't like to think about getting old, let alone dying, I'm sure that few of us have made any plans for ourselves or even told other family members what our wishes are. It can be quite a burden, both emotionally and financially for loved ones left behind to have to figure things out in a moment of grief. Perhaps if we think of it as one last gift, we'd be a little more attentive to this matter.

3) Wills/estate planning: Thankfully, my uncle had drawn up a will after my aunt passed. Unfortunately, I’m not as lucky with my own family. Every time I try to bring up the discussion of a will with my husband, he doesn't want to talk about it. With no children of our own, it's even more important to have this taken care of before hand. In my business, I’ve talked to several estate attorneys who are looking for ways to reach out to Baby Boomers and get them to take action. I always suggest that the best way to help Boomers push beyond their denial, is to frame the matter in a positive way, i.e., having an estate plan enables one to make a difference by leaving a legacy.That's a much better motivator than the guilt trip, as Baby Boomers are one of the most philanthropic groups of people on the planet.

4) Experts predict that many Baby Boomers may be inheriting property or assets. According to a MetLife Study the number is estimated to be about $6 Trillion dollars nationwide. Realtors, estate attorneys, financial planners/advisers, and CPA's should take note of this. As most Boomers really haven't thought about this stuff, there’s an opportunity to provide good helpful information and assistance. How should real estate be evaluated? Are there people who can help with cleanouts? With staging and preparing a property to sell? What's the probate process like? What are tax implications of inheritances? What should be done with additional financial assets? Whether it’s for their elders or themselves, Boomers need help with these questions and more, and there are real opportunities out there for businesses that can provide answers.

That said, I’ve decided this this is a good time for me to begin the process of filling out my own "What-If Workbook" a handy tool that a business associate of mine, Gwen Morgan, developed. I’d given one to my uncle a while back, but we haven't found it yet. I remember him telling me he’d been using it to gather everything together. I look forward to finding it, as one more memento of him. But I suspect that since he had so much else in place, we won't really need it.

-posted by Laura Willis

Labels: Baby Boomers and Inheritances, Baby Boomers and realtors, estate attorneys, financial planners, financial advisers, CPA's


facebook_gensightsRegardless of which research you read, it’s apparent that Baby Boomers are making their presence known on Facebook. Whether it’s Deloitte data touting that nearly 47% of Boomers are on Facebook or the NPD Group claiming it’s more like 41%, the bottom line is that Boomers are moving into the world of online social networking. Of course, how we and others will use this technology and all that it has to offer is a question that’s yet to be answered. As Facebook evolves, so will the ways that members will choose to weave it into their social fabric.

I’ve experienced first hand the advantages of being a Facebook member. Like many Boomers, my wife and I were not exactly early adapters. In fact, it was our college-age son who prodded us for nearly a year to sign up. Because he’s not much of a phone conversationalist, he informed us that if we wanted to stay abreast of his life, Facebook was the way. As a result, we became converts, singing the praises of this online community to everyone in our network of friends.

In the beginning, I had some apprehensions about my security, privacy, etc. I decided to approach it the same way I approach the security of my home. I don’t let strangers in the door; I keep the doors locked, keep security lights on at night and have two dogs that bark when something isn’t quite right. After many conversations with my marketing colleagues and those in the know, I realized I could incorporate those same principals into my Facebook account.

I follow the same line of thinking when deciding what I post, and who I make it available to. Since there’s no doubt I’m a product of two parents from the “Silent Generation,” I’m not keen on sharing too much personal information, even with family and friends. So much as in my off-line life, when I share photos from a recent trip or social activity on Facebook, I’m selective about whom I share it with. I think about online privacy this way: do you allow the guests in your home to have free run of all your drawers, photo albums, file cabinets, etc.? Of course not! So use the same approach with Facebook.

On the downside, Facebook has implemented so many features for security that it can be a little confusing for the novice user. I often wonder if there is a method to their madness and the answer is, of course! It’s like disclosures you find on everything you sign, small print in legalise. For participants who want to maintain the highest level of security measures, it requires a bit of due diligence on their part or a very tech savvy friend. Keep in mind that Facebook is notorious for making changes that can jeopardize some or all of your personal security settings. My suggestion is start off with the locks on and as you become comfortable, you can unlock the ones that make sense for you.

So far, I’ve been extremely pleased with the way I’ve chosen to set up my online social life, both personally and professionally. I feel I’m right up there with the 20- and 30- something’s, but have an experience that’s tailored more for me and my lifestyle. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to managing your Facebook account because it’s all about you and how you want to present yourself to your world of family and friends. Social media may not be every Boomer’s cup of tea, but if you’re a social person like I am, it ROCKS!

-posted by Thomas A. Gorski

Labels: Baby Boomers, Facebook, Baby Boomers and Social Networking, Baby Boomers and Facebook