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Estate Planning for Baby Boomers

Boomers do this and Millennials do that. Gen X, who knows? Ascribing personality traits to an entire generation has become a parlor game that most of us play. A tone of condescension has creeped in to some of these conversations, but I like to get down to the nitty gritty when I meet with my slightly older friends. “Leave it to Beaver” or “Gilligan’s Island?” Are you an Eddie Haskell or a Thurston Howell III?

Pop culture is fun to talk about. It could be TV, music, movies or sports. We watched the same shows and heard the same songs on the radio. We also touch on all the places that are no longer around, neighborhoods that have changed and the transition from an analog world to a digital one.

Once the nostalgia and laughter subsides, what really matters is the reality of hitting your 60s and 70s.

There are two modes of thinking that exist simultaneously: Deciding what role their adult children will have in their parents’ lives is one. The other is how to manage resources for aging and expectations of declining health.

Older Boomers may have adult children in their late 40s and 50s. By this time, a parent gets a decent sense of the child’s trajectory and demeanor. Naming an agent under a Power of Attorney or a trustee is a big deal. A parent has to have confidence in their child’s abilities and decision making.

Younger Boomers have a more difficult task. Their children may still be finding themselves. Siblings or close friends are often chosen to be fiduciaries while the younger adult children mature.

Setting up inheritances and distributions involves careful calculations. Is your child a responsible money manager who can be trusted with a pool of money? Maybe, they are living paycheck to paycheck and would benefit more from an income stream?

The Boomer experience does not mirror the current financial culture. Exploding real estate and college costs are increasingly being covered by generational estate planning undertaken by Boomer parents. These same Boomers, who often worked to pay for school then save up for a home with very little help, are now called upon for support.

A discussion of Boomers’ health shows a dueling picture. The idea of wellness with proper nutrition, stress management, exercise and sleep has been widely disseminated and commodified over the last 50 years. For Boomers that took advantage of these healthy living opportunities, coupled with genetic good fortune, the payoffs have been remarkable.

On the other hand, chronic illness management, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a host of other maladies may impact a loved one, but their life continues, albeit in a compromised fashion. The cost of long-term care has skyrocketed. Nurisng home costs usually run north of $14,000 per month in New York, while private agency home health aides charge more than $30 per hour. Medicaid will assist in covering those costs, provided financial eligibility has been met.

Planning for Medicaid must be a concern for aging Boomers who are anticipating or experiencing health problems. Medicaid Planning involves use of Irrevocable Trusts as well as spousal exemptions and caregiver child protections.

We are all in this together, whether you were born in 1948, 1963 or 1974. Even though different forces shaped our worldview, the ultimate desire is for our loved ones to thrive and live a fulfilling life. Of course, if you youngsters can’t sing “The Partridge Family” theme song, all bets are off.

Alan D. Feller, Esq., is managing partner of The Feller Group, located at 625 Route 6, Mahopac. He can be reached at


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