With a projected $895 billion inheritance coming their way over the next ten years,1 will boomers pay it forward? What does leaving a legacy mean to your boomer clients and how do they want to be remembered?

For past generations, leaving a financial legacy meant ensuring there were assets to pass along as an inheritance to family members or a financial gift to a worthy cause. However, today’s boomers are redefining retirement: they’re active, living longer and they want to make the most of their retirement. Has this impacted their views on legacy? In September 2013, Sun Life Financial surveyed over 1,800 CARP members and asked them what’s most important to them when it comes to their financial legacy:

  • 38% want to make sure that when they die, they won’t be a burden on their family.
  • 31.5% want to make sure that they have access to the money they need to create memories with friends and family or to achieve a significant accomplishment while they are still alive.
  • 21.9% want to leave a planned financial gift to loved ones.
  • 8.4% want to leave a planned financial gift to a charitable organization.2

Legacy goals are fairly evenly split among those surveyed, with their top two concerns being not wanting to be a burden on their families when they die and wanting to make sure they can create memories while they are alive. Survey results also showed that, although 65.5% of respondents had received an inheritance, only 31.4% said that this had influenced them to do the same.

So, what does legacy mean to your clients and how do they want to be remembered?

  • Do they want to cover their final expenses, debt and taxes due on their estate upon death? Your clients may want to live their retirement to the fullest but it’s important to ensure they don’t leave a financial burden on their loved ones by failing to take care of final expenses, taxes and potential debts at death.
  • Do they want a living legacy to see the impact of their gifts while they’re alive? Maybe your clients want to create living memories with their children and grandchildren, for example, gifting a child with money while they are still alive, paying for a grandchild’s education or funding family trips.
  • Do they want to provide an inheritance for their family? Perhaps in addition to covering final expenses, they want to leave a gift to their family such as a sum of money every year after they’re gone or ensure they’re protected by an insurance policy.
  • Do they plan to give money or assets to a favourite charity?

Results from Sun Life’s survey showed that just over 30% of respondents didn’t have a legacy plan in place.3 Talk to your clients to find out how they want to be remembered. Understanding what legacy your clients want will help you offer them the right solutions that fit their needs. Help them define and plan for the legacy they want. If your clients already have a plan in place, review it with them to ensure it stays up-to-date and aligned with their current wishes.

To help you start a meaningful discussion with your clients about planning their legacy, send the Money for Life legacy video to your clients or watch it together. You can also provide clients with the booklet What to do now – A reference guide for your executor. This guide allows them to document the location of essential documents and information that others will need to take care of matters when they can’t. In addition, consider scheduling family meetings to help align your clients’ legacy plans, meet potential new clients and build your business.


1 Investor Economics, Household balance sheet report, 2013.

2 Sun Life Financial, e-blast survey to CARP members, September 2013. Over 56% of respondents were 65 years old and older, while 70.4% were retired and 14.2% of all respondents were within five years of retirement.

3 Sun Life Financial, e-blast survey to CARP members, September 2013.

Originally published on Advisor.ca