The economic downturn, steep health-care costs and longer lives may mean less money being left to boomers by their parents-but boomers are unlikely to complain about that. Why? It turns out it’s not about the money. Instead, baby boomers say personal keepsakes, family stories and last wishes are a far more important bequest than money.

Planning for your family and their well-being after you are gone is not an easy, or pleasant task. While it is easier to think about an inheritance as money or assets, one should never overlook one of the greatest gifts you can give to family: the gift of “family” itself in the form of history, stories, memories, and mementos. Do not leave it to folk-wisdom or word of mouth.

For support of this notion, consider the findings of a recent survey of baby boomers, as reported in a recent article of MarketWatch titled “Your heirs want this even more than your money.

You might say it comes down to legacy itself, and a legacy in the form of the family.

Fully 86% of baby boomers and 74% of Americans aged 72 and older said family stories and keeping their family history alive is the most important piece of their legacy, according to a 2012 survey conducted for Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America. And 64% of boomers and 58% of elders said family mementos and heirlooms are a key inheritance. Just 9% of boomers said they’re eager to inherit money, and 14% of elders said financial assets are an important legacy to leave. The findings closely matched a similar Allianz survey in 2005.

As you can imagine, feelings can be hurt when it comes to one-of-a-kind items of family history significance. While “stories” can be shared and enjoyed by everyone in the family, how should you handle family “artifacts”?

Well, what is the takeaway?

With the increased boomer interest in family legacies, do not neglect planning for the mementos and heirlooms that are themselves tangible treasures of such legacies.

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Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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