Baby Boomers: Sandwich Generation

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Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News.

Boomers Sandwiched Between Receiving Giving

By Ann Garson

Some call baby boomers the sandwich generation because they are caring for both parents and children. Similarly, many baby boomers are sandwiched between inheriting assets or family businesses and planning for future distributions of their own assets or transferring of the family business.

Research has found that 90 percent of inheritance is depleted by the third generation and only 12 percent of family businesses survive from the second to the third generation. It is hard to know exactly how to prevent this but the prevailing wisdom is that success is maximized through family communication and education.

Preserving wealth and family business is only part of the picture. Now is the time you can add to the picture of your life, change the story and make yourself understood. Simply put, baby boomers have reached a stage in their lives when finding meaning in life has become a priority.

You want your adult children and grandchildren to understand what you value most and why; how you have tried to make a difference and where. You also want them to be financially literate and prepared to inherit. You want your children to know why you give to the Jewish community and may hope that they carry on those choices.

Financial and legal advisors who work with baby boomers may not feel comfortable starting the “soft” conversations around money and values. It is up to you to ask these professionals if they will work with your family to articulate the values that accompany the inheriting and passing on of valuables. Much more than assets are about to be transferred; ideals are being passed on to the next generation as well.

You can start the conversation yourself. Do you know the charitable organizations that mean the most to the people closest to you? Ask and then share yours. Share why these causes hold such meaning for you by connecting them to values or family stories. Offer to visit and learn about the causes that they cherish and in turn invite them to learn about yours. Communicate about the role of money in your life. What message did your parents give you about money? What message have you tried to give your children? Is the message you chose to give your children different from the one you received from your parents? How have these money messages played out in your life in terms of shaping your personality and decisions?

Being the sandwich generation means understanding the legacies, stories and messages you have received as well as clarifying and articulating those you wish to convey. As a baby boomer, you may be lucky enough to share with and learn from both the generation before and the next generation as well.

Ann Garson is managing director of funds and foundations at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

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