Forget legacy – many elderly Americans want to leave their loved ones with memories when they die.
Nearly seven out of 10 Americans (69%) say they will be remembered for the experiences and moments they shared with family and friends followed by the quality of their marriages and then passions or hobbies, according to a study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave. Being remembered for the amount of wealth they have accumulated was at the bottom of whether they had investable assets of over $ 1 million or below $ 50,000. The study included 3,000 Americans 55 and older.
Of course, many people over 55 also said that they will protect their loved ones when they are gone and will not have their deaths to cause a financial burden. But they are also too scared to talk about going away, or the years leading up to it. Adult children also typically refrain from discussing economic and health obligations with their older parents for fear of disturbing them or even insulting them.
See: This is the most useful thing you can do for your family before you die
"We live in a world where we are talking about one's last chapter or the end of life is very sensitive and most choose not to do so, "says Ken Dychtwald, founder and CEO of Age Wave, a research and consulting firm for pension issues.
Dychtwald, who is also a psychologist and gerontologist, spoke to MarketWatch about the unexpected desires of older Americans for the end of their lives. This interview was edited for clarity and length.
MarketWatch: How well do Americans inherit planning? Where are they short?
Dychtwald: Very few people actually created the mechanisms for transferring these ideas and heritage messages. There is a practical side to all this. Who they want to be in their last chapters does not have to be sad or morbid. Many people at this stage of life seem to be the best step in life, and in other studies we see satisfaction and happiness soar in the last decade of life. It's almost contradictory.
There are three main components for heritage planning.
A will. Even for people over 55 in this country, only 55% of the population over 55 had a will, Age Wave found. Some high-profile examples of people who died without will include music legend Aretha Franklin and Prince. Wills is not just for the rich and famous, they are a way to make sure your desires are clear, your property is divided as you please and they and help prevent court games or family struggles.
An advance directive or a health-authorized representative. These communicate with loved ones your life-abandoned desires if you get sick or find yourself in a health crisis.
A permanent power of attorney. It is the ability to decide who you will handle your financial or legal issues.
Many of the respondents surveyed by Age Wave thought only wealthy people should worry about this, and only 1
MW: What are the obstacles (right or imagined) that people need to have their affairs in order?
Dychtwald: Hurdler is often psychological. I'll give you an example. My wife for 35 years, we have a good relationship and she is the coolest and healthiest person I have come across. But she had replaced her hips and we were told that our will and health directives should be in place. Here we are, my wife and I started this company, but we did not want to talk about the possibility that she would not get out of the operation. It was such a morbid, horrible thought, we didn't want to do it. Talking about it, especially if it is right next to an operation or health crisis, is a very unpleasant scene and we would rather see "America's Got Talent" or take a walk in the park.
I think Americans get used to the idea that we might live forever. The end of life, or death, is not around us as much as in all previous centuries. And it's not wise. It's a strange thing. Something that affects 100% of us is not covered as often as school debt or buying a home, so people live with it as a bit of a mystery.
MW: Is there ever a place of wealth within these memories, and how can they get the balance?
Dychtwald: We asked people if anyone passed by and they did not have their basic affairs in order, how would they be considered a person? The respondent's answer No. 1 is that they would be considered irresponsible. As a "father was a good guy, but what a mess he was." The legacy and impression of you will be distracted or even damaged. And then we tried to find out when people were organizing their old plans and what we learned was waiting until a crisis or last minute of life was not a good idea. We need these ideas in place with 50, well before any crisis.
When you come in a car and want to drive safely, put on the seat belt. There are two things to do with inheritance – make sure you have the right documents and directives, it's a kind of easy part. The hard part thinks about who you are as a person. What people think I tell us in our study is that they reached a point in life where they want to be their best self, not just so they are remembered that way, but so they can feel that sense they have done it best of their lives. When we asked what the ingredients are, it has money to be safe and have peace of mind, but the great thing that people say they want in their bouquet of life story is experiences and good memories.
Two weeks ago, my wife and I saw Elton John with a farewell journey. It was two and a half hours, but he spent most of the night thanking everyone for the millions of memories in his life as a performer. Although he had his up and down in life, his gratitude filled the stadium. We considered him to take this phase of his life to shape the way people would think of him and would have all his fans know how much he valued them.
See also: What's next when planning your pension? Help Your Kids And Grandchildren Make Their Plans
MW: With all the technology available to keep people alive, most people seem to define a "good death" as surrounded by loved ones, while "receiving all possible medical interventions" came in as least important. Can you explain what that means?
Dychtwald: A good death does not mean that death is good. People do not want to lose cognitive function and they do not want to suffer. Their ideal death conditions would be surrounded by loved ones, right up to the end. Next, they want their dignity to maintain mental clarity, and they want to be at home or a place they prefer. They are more concerned about their quality of life.
We all had a mother or father or aunt or uncle who went in a really unpleasant way. We asked what is a good death in relation to their families? And they said they do not want their families burdened at the end, and they do not want their families to suffer adversity in death.