Aging with Attitude (and Gratitude)
If age is an attitude, then I feel pretty good.
When I think back to my parents at this age, it seems to me that they were somehow much older than I am now. I’m more active, more engaged, and more physically fit. While they had rewarding lives, mine just seems more fun. Perhaps my own children and grandchildren will feel that way too. If 75 is the new 60 now, imagine what the experience of future generations could be.
I’ll never know, of course. But as two-thirds of my life has been spent in the wealth management business, I do know one thing: Successful aging is greatly influenced by financial health and a good attitude, as well as by physical and mental health, and relationships. Federal longevity statistics bear that out at the most fundamental level, with the top one percent of Americans by wealth living longer than the average, and life expectancy across the board increasing with income.
Wealth is not a panacea for the worries that come with age, of course. But, if managed correctly, it can buy at least some peace of mind and, when needed, the best medical care. (Of course, a healthy diet, not smoking, exercising, and only light use of alcohol also help.) Here are three current examples, much in my thoughts at present.
First, how can anyone – especially people who like to live well – afford to live to 100 years old, while still meeting important family and philanthropic goals? As Wealth & Fiduciary Advisor Tom Olchon discusses in his article, Financial Planning: More Than Investing, planning for a very long life starts and continues with rigorous financial analysis, regular risk assessments, and steady fiduciary oversight. As I round what I hope is only third base, my wish is to keep running in good health and with good cognition. But I have backup plans in place too, including a revocable trust, appropriate powers of attorney and health care proxies, a living will, and a good team of wealth and health advisors.
Second, how can we remain resilient and keep having fun through inevitable and often brutal market drawdowns? There have been 20 bear markets since 1929, with an average drawdown peak-to-trough of 37% and an average 3.3 – year recovery time. My advice remains the same as it was at the beginning of this bear market: Don’t panic and stay the course. Maintain a balanced portfolio with sufficient cash and defensive assets to ride out the hard times and be in a position to capture the market upside over the long term.
Third, how can we share our good fortune with our children and grandchildren, without inadvertently depriving them of the satisfactions of challenge and accomplishment? Watching my eldest grandchild preparing to head off to college reinforces my view that education is the greatest gift we can give those we love. (Anyone who wants to learn more should view Comprehensive Lifestyle Planning: The Cost of Education by Ashley Ferriello, a Partner and Wealth & Fiduciary Advisor at our firm, who describes some of the tax-efficient and satisfying ways in which to fund or contribute to an education.)
That view – that education makes a fine gift – is widely shared, I know. I haven’t seen much consensus beyond it, however. If, when and how to transfer assets to children and grandchildren is one of the most dynamic and challenging discussions in our work, and no two families have the same opinion. That’s why we are hosting a webinar on December 15, 2022, titled Enough, but Not Too Much: Raising Independent Children in an Affluent Environment. Please join it, if you can.
Attitude, said Winston Churchill, is a little thing that makes a big difference. Multiple studies have drawn a connection between maintaining a positive attitude and aging with resiliency. I should add that anyone who reaches this age in good health, with strong relationships and solid finances, has reason to feel enormously grateful. I know I do.
Jeff Maurer is the Chairman of Evercore Wealth Management and Evercore Trust Company. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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