Estate planning considerations common to baby boomers in Colorado

If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you are a member of the baby boomer generation. At the end of World War II, returning military personnel married in droves and, shortly thereafter, had many babies, creating a "baby boom." As this generation of children aged, they gained a reputation as the wealthiest and most physically fit generation of their time.

Whether due to a struggling economy or the high cost of long-term medical care, the parents of baby boomers often do not have many financial resources to leave behind as they pass away. However, longevity and financial self-sufficiency affect the needs and desires of a majority of baby boomers, especially when it comes to estate planning.

What matters most

A 2012 an Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America survey noted that less than 10 percent of baby boomers are counting on a financial inheritance from their parents or other elder relatives. In fact, a vast majority - over 85 percent - of baby boomers say family histories and stories are the most important part of their family legacy, and about 60 percent say they value family heirlooms and mementoes more than monetary inheritances.

When establishing your estate plan, it is important to determine what matters most to your family members. While siblings may have no difficulty wrapping their minds around an uneven distribution when one sibling will be inheriting the family business or another provided years of in-home care, items of sentimental value can quickly cause family disputes during the time of mourning.

Most people have difficulty talking with family about end-of-life planning but it is important to do so, and sooner rather than later. Follow these tips to help your family understand your decisions after you are no longer there to answer their questions:

  • Start talking: Organize family discussions or informal meetings with individual family members about your estate planning wishes. It is much better to communicate your desires now than to have them wonder once you are gone.
  • Make a list: After finding out which child most wants certain family mementos, put it in writing. A memorandum is a great way to give particular items of sentimental value to non-family members as well.
  • Anticipate disputes: Do not assume that all of your children are willing and able to share ownership of a family property. One may need the cash and want to sell, whereas others may be deeply offended by such a move, leading to a family dispute.
  • Give gifts early: If you have a favorite niece or special friend, consider giving lifetime gifts to keep specific items out of the estate and possibly avoiding spats among relatives.

Hire an attorney

If you do not have an estate plan, have not recently updated your plan or need advice about how to talk with your family about your desires, consult an experienced estate planning lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you and your loved ones through the estate planning and, later, the probate processes.