Hickman Lowder

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Generational Differences Call for Differences in Estate Planning

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2021 | Estate Planning

Whether you’re in your 40’s or your 80’s, it’s never too early or late to start thinking about creating an estate plan, and different generations can have specific ideas and approaches when it comes to their estate planning. Baby Boomers, those born generally between 1946 and 1964, are often characterized as having a strong work ethic and whose identities are intertwined with their job, they prefer structure, discipline and are very good team players.  Generation X, individuals born between 1965 and 1976 are known as those who “work smart, not hard,” and do a relatively good job of balancing work with family time. Millennials and Gen Y, those born between 1977 and 1994, are fiercely independent and are concerned with ethics and social responsibility.

So, what kind of estate planning considerations are common for the Baby Boomer generation?  Baby Boomers often come to me with a strong desire to create a detailed estate plan with a Revocable Living Trust that is very structured and lays out specific guidelines for the trustees.  Boomers often employ Co-Trustees due to their attraction to teamwork.  Even in the Health Care Power of Attorney and Durable Financial Power of Attorney, Boomers tend to want to add their own expertise into the document, whether that be their background as a social worker, a nurse, an accountant, an engineer, or a business owner.  Boomers feel most comfortable when their estate plan looks as much like them and their personality as possible.   When engaging in elder law planning, the Baby Boomers are very concerned with having the “best” plan, even if it is more complicated and riskier, as the Baby Boomers tend to be highly competitive.

How does Generation X approach planning?  Gen Xers value being able to get things done quickly and don’t want to spend a lot of time personalizing their documents.  My clients who are Gen Xers generally accept the documents I provide them on their face value and are satisfied with the explanations about what each document does to protect their interests.  As this group begins to engage in elder law planning, they are attracted to the most pragmatic, easy-to-execute plans for asset protection.

How Millennials and Gen Y view estate planningBeing a generation that has grown up gathering their own information, they, like the Baby Boomers, tend to offer a great deal of their own input in their estate plans.  Independent by nature, this group tends to shy away from naming Co-Agents in their documents, instead assigning responsibility to one, independent person who is expected to exercise their duties with the same value system as them.  It’s not that this group is untrusting of others; instead, the Millennials and Gen Y group want to find that “perfect” trustee or power of attorney, even though they know there is no such thing.  It will be interesting to see how this group approaches estate planning with an eye towards elder care and long-term care planning as the earliest individuals reach retirement age.  My guess is that they will be more like the Baby Boomers than Generation X.