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The Snag

Richard Quinn

I PARTICIPATE IN Facebook groups for retirees from my old employer. Having worked in employee benefits for decades, I know or at least recognize the names of many of the people.

Frequently, someone posts an obituary. It used to be that they were much older than me. No longer. Now they’re near my age—or younger. It’s all a bit unsettling. Often, a picture is posted of the deceased. I think to myself, “What happened to Joe?” Then I avoid looking in a mirror for a few days.

I recall during my working days when a new widow would call me. She would ask about her survivor annuity, and there would be none. Or she would ask about life insurance, and she wasn’t named as beneficiary. People who don’t plan for their demise—and don’t consider their family—don’t realize the hardship they leave behind.

That got me thinking about my own estate plan. I want to leave a legacy to help my children with their retirement. There’s just one snag. My oldest son is age 51 and my youngest child is 46. To make my estate plan work, my wife and I can’t be here when they retire, which may be in just 10 years or so.

Here’s the thing: My personal target date is July 4, 2040. That would put me at 97, the age at which my great, great grandfather died. July 4th is also the anniversary of the death of two presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Okay, a little weird, but I like having goals.

By at that point, my oldest would be 70 and probably retired several years. To make things more challenging, when he’s 60, his oldest child will be a sophomore in college. And his two younger children will be right behind, still in high school. Another of my children will likely face college bills later in life, too, which isn’t unusual these days.

There appear to be only two solutions to this problem. One, we can start gifting money to our children during our lifetimes. But that means I must violate my lifelong “what if” strategy. I want to be prepared for any event, particularly living a surprisingly long life and the possibility of requiring long-term care.

Meanwhile, I’ll pass on the second solution: a premature Facebook appearance.

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