Leaving a Legacy

In Family History on June 23, 2014 at 6:41 AM



In 2005 and again in 2012 Allianz Financial Services conducted a comprehensive survey to understand what is believed to be the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in world history (Allianz Life Insurance of North America, 2012). Called the American Legacies Study, this survey based research sought to understand the attitudes, hopes, worries, priorities, and goals of the two generations at the heart of this transfer; baby boomers and their elder parents. It is not surprising a financial services company would conduct this research; conservative estimates put this transfer at over 25 trillion dollars. As indicated in the report, “this is a good time to be in the financial services and estate planning business” (Allianz Life Insurance of North American, 2005, p. 2). Interestingly, while one might expect the report to focus on the financial aspects of legacy transfer, both boomers and their parents were, and in fact remain more focused on the emotional elements of legacy. In other words, both generations, though boomers more so , are concerned with what Allainz calls the “four pillars of legacy”; values and life lessons, personal possessions of emotional value, wishes and directions to be fulfilled, and finally financial assets and real estate (Allianz Life Insurance of North America, 2012).

As a historian and educator, I find this very encouraging because it means that the stories, the memories, and the mementoes collected over the course of one’s life are deemed equally or even more important than the financial assets they amassed. More importantly these stories become the foundation of their legacy and quite possibly may someday become part of the historic record. Anything we can do to increase the sources of history will add depth and perspective to our understanding of the past. Boomers changed the course of history and it is encouraging to know their unique perspective on it will be preserved for generations to come. Remember, you should be Saving History too because your story is priceless.

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