Today, a successful retirement requires much more purposeful planning that accounts for major generational changes in how we work and live. I believe that engineering a modern retirement blueprint starts with four essential building blocks: Health, Family, Purpose, and Comprehensive Financial Planning.
In the first installment of this four-part series, I discussed some new ways for seniors to think about health and longevity.
In part two, I shared three reasons why it’s so important for folks to get their year-end financial planning in order so that they can start the new year strong. The third part of this series is about something that's on everyone's mind this time of year: family. We spent so much of 2020 at arm's length from our loved ones. And, sadly, many of us have decided that the best thing for our families is to put off those hugs and group celebrations for a couple more months. But as we found ways to bridge social distance this year, we also gained a new appreciation for our most cherished relationships. Some folks have even discovered that the word "family" means something very different to them than it did before the pandemic.
Building new bonds.
Who is family to an 80-year-old widow living in a retirement community whose children can't safely visit her? That senior might feel that her family has grown to include the nurses who cared for her, the volunteers who played board games with her, the cooks who made her meals. What about a family of four that has to move across the country because dad's employer downsized during the pandemic? That family might feel like the neighbors who welcomed them, included them in their driveway hangouts, and invited them to Zoom game nights are more than just neighbors. The way that folks thought about family was already changing before COVID-19, especially among millennials who are waiting longer to marry and have children. Ironically, our year of lockdowns, social distancing, working from home, and virtual learning has broadened the scope of many of our relationships. Thanks to fam jams on Zoom you might feel closer to far-flung cousins and old college classmates than you did when you could fly out for a visit anytime you wanted. And as we all pitched in to address social problems and support small businesses, we deepened our roots in our communities as well.
Supporting those we love the most.
Of course, even if our sense of family has expanded, the folks we've missed the most during the pandemic probably feel extra special after such a tough year. The new generation of active retirees is especially close to their adult children and grandkids because they have more opportunities to visit and more ways to stay connected thanks to cell phones and social media. I know from my conversations with clients that taking care of that next generation was on many seniors' minds this year. In the early days of the pandemic, we had a lot of phone calls and video chats with older clients who wanted to make sure that their estate plans were up-to-date, particularly their beneficiary lists and health care directives. Although these discussions often start from a place of worry and even sadness, in my experience they often end with seniors feeling like a big weight has come off their shoulders. There's real comfort that comes with knowing that you and your spouse will be taken care of the way you want when the time comes. And planning so that your lifetime of hard work and financial discipline will make a big difference in the lives of your heirs can be a real source of joy.
Giving more than just money.
As rewarding as it is to support your family financially, many senior clients tell me that they want to leave behind a legacy that's more than just money. I think this is another accelerating trend that we can attribute to the millennial generation. Retiring boomers see how much importance their children and grandchildren place on making a positive impact on the world. These seniors want their legacies to have that kind of impact too. Some of our clients have enjoyed writing legacy letters that they include in their estate planning documents. Others make video or audio recording so that they can speak directly to their heirs in their own voices. These legacy statements give you a chance to reflect on the memories and values that you want future generations to inherit. You might reflect on moments in life when your values were tested, and how your response shaped the way you lived going forward. You might encourage your heirs to continue to shepherd your family's charitable mission. Or you might simply record a message of love and hope that will be passed down from one generation of your family to the next. It is my sincere wish that however you define family at the end of 2020, you're able to celebrate safely and joyfully with yours this holiday season.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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