Legacy vs. Inheritance. Which is more important to your parents?

The Allianz American Legacies Study found that baby boomers and elders view the concepts of legacy and inheritance differently. According to the study, a true legacy is a combination of emotional and financial elements, while an inheritance is purely financial. The difference between an inheritance and a true legacy is clear and distinct, though the terms are used interchangeably and there is little evidence of an agreed way to approach either. Boomers indicate they prefer to preserve their parents’ memories than receive a financial inheritance, while elders believe their boomer children are more interested in money.

Elders are underestimating the importance of their non-financial legacy to their children. They mistakenly think financial assets and real estate are more important to their children.

39% of elders say it’s very important to pass along their financial assets or real estate to their children, while only 10% of boomers see that as a priority.
Boomers think knowing their parents’ future wishes are the most important part of their parents’ legacy.

65% of boomers say it’s very important that they receive instruction on how their parents’ wishes (about their family/death/estate) should be fulfilled.
35% of elders say it’s their obligation to leave an inheritance to their children. 17% of elders feel their children are counting on an inheritance, but only 4% of boomers are. 22% of elders with children feel they owe their children an inheritance, but only 3% of boomers feel the same.

Have you had a conversation with your parents regarding the legacy they want to leave behind? Have you asked them how they want to be remebered? Are there traditions and family practices they want continued? Are their personal items that they cherish and want passed on to certain members of the family?  Are their certain charities or religious organizations that they want to be remembered by? You can open the conversation by asking your mom or dad, “How do you want the family to remembr4 you after you are gone? Then just sit back and listen.

For more information on The Allianz American Legacies Study, visit http://www.allianzlife.com or contact Neil Grace at (202) 530- 4558, Neil Grace@was.bm.com.

Does your Mom need Palliative Care?

A very interesting article appeared on the front page of the New York Times yesterday (April 4, 2010) It was  about Dr. Desiree Pardi,  a leading practitioner of palliative care, one of the fastest growing fields in medicine. Palliative care is the counseling of terminally ill patients regarding their end of life choices. Unfortunately Dr. Pardi contracted terminal cancer and had to choose whether or not to receive palliative care herself. Ironically she chose not to, but rather decided to fight her illness aggressively until the end.

Palliative care has become the standard practice of most hospitals in the country. It’s popularity is a backlash against the harsh, sterile treatment of patients at the end of life that had been practiced in so many hospitals. It stresses the relief of pain, and recognizing that after a certain point, aggressive treatment may prevent patients from enjoying what time they have left.

Dr. Pardi chose to believe that her Doctors underestimated her and that she could fight and win the battle against cancer. But she died a very painful death after extensive chemotherapy and other experimental treatments. She died before many of her colleagues could say goodbye and they grappled with her death. Some said she took the right course fighting her illness to the very end. Others said that she was in a state of denial and refused to accept her impending death.

At what point would you recommend to your own parent that she receive palliative care? It is a very difficult decision and should be discussed prior to the time when a decision has to be made. Have you discussed your parent’s advanced directives with them, their health care proxy, their living will and their power of attorney?

An excellent alternative to the traditional health care proxy and living will is the Five Wishes program. Each individual goes through a form which asks detailed questions regarding how they want the Five Wishes to be carried out. It is available through www.agingwithdignity.org

Wish 1: The person I want to make health care decisions for me when I can’t make them for myself.

Wish 2: My wish for the kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want.

Wish 3: My wish for how comfortable I want to be.

Wish 4: My wish for how I want people to treat me.

Wish 5: My wish for what I want my loved ones to know.

The form guides your parent through the decisions that have to be made in each of these areas. When she is done I suggest that you give her the opportunity to go through the form with you and discuss each area. You will be very glad that you did.