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For seniors, legacy is often more important than money

April 23, 2013

In light of the Great Recession and sequestration, it might stand to reason that retirees may be most worried about their finances and, specifically, whether they will have any inheritance to leave to their children. While this may certainly be the case for some seniors, it is not for the majority of older adults. A new survey from Allianz Insurance found that 74 percent of people 72 and older are more concerned with passing down family values to their loved ones than money.

The findings come from a poll of more than 2,000 individuals - over half of whom were at least 72 years old. Experts say the results suggest that a financial legacy may not be one of the most important aspects of retirement financial planning. Some analysts speculate that this could be due largely to their past experiences. Many of today's retirees lived during significant changes in the country's culture, so they'd like to see that tradition continued. 

"They lived through a time of reshaping the culture. Making their mark. Everything from ending segregation to protesting the war, the sexual revolution and women's rights," industry expert Keith Ogorek told "It's not surprising that that they want to leave something behind besides their finances."

This isn't the first time the desire to leave a legacy has been thrust into the spotlight. Experts say that a legacy often goes beyond philanthropy and making a difference in the community. Many seniors also place a heavy emphasis on preserving things like stories, memories and documentation of the lives they have led, and according to MarketWatch, it's often up to adult children to help their parents out with the process.