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Changing Interests across Generations

It seems as if the gap between generations has markedly increased for those following the Baby Boomers through life. The activities, interests and possessions of the younger generations are much more removed from their parents’ and grandparents’ way of life.

This poses an interesting problem for aging boomers whose children and grandchildren simply are not interested in the furniture, heirlooms, hobbies and other things valued by the boomers and their parents. The likely heirs simply will not be interested in many of these items when the boomers pass away.

Wouldn’t it be sad if a client happily bequeathed Great Aunt Agatha’s old china set to a child who recoils in horror at the thought of giving space to it? If any item valued by your forebears – and carried down to you – sparks no interest in the next generation? It is much better to have a discussion with the next generation(s) and find out what interests them and not place undue weight on those things that will not resonate with them. Get rid of those items or make other arrangements if the items are not going to be wanted and simplify your own life by shedding some of the material burdens.

The point here is for clients to understand what kind of legacy is going to work with the family and so make a positive difference in the lives of their children and grandchildren. This is not to say that their heirs just want money or are uninterested in their ancestors and their way of life. Yes, some folks are simply interested in the cash and will accept things that they immediately turn around and sell. But we always run that risk when we make gifts.

Much better to try to find a home for what you consider important, whether that home is a museum, a consignment shop, a charitable organization, a junkyard or even perhaps the home of some other member of the family who will appreciate it. It may actually take some thought and effort on your part, but then most tasks of any value will. Talk to your children now, and often. They may not be ready today but if they are prepared and interested, it will make things go smoothly later. 

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