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Planning for Transition


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Keeping the Legacy Alive

Your reverse mortgage clients and prospects have made many transitions throughout their lives, and chances are, most of them were well thought out and planned in advance: the cross-country move, the jump to a better job, or the decision to scale back and devote more time to family or volunteering. But the vast majority of people don’t want to face the transition that eventually comes to us all: dying.

Author Norman Cousins said, “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

Many people fear dying so greatly that they never express their true talents and gifts while they’re here, agrees transition planning expert Jack Beauregard. Living with significance “transcends this fear by ensuring that the fruits of your talents and gifts are used for the betterment of the lives of others.” Beauregard suggests elders can live (and die) significantly by:

  • Realizing how valuable and rare you really are
  • Utilizing your authentic talents, skills and capabilities
  • Expressing your distinctive individuality, your uniqueness, your originality
  • Living your vision
  • Accomplishing your life’s mission and purpose
  • Doing what you are passionate about
  • Singing the song that is inside of you
  • Bequeathing money and other valuables

Senior Transition Planning
He recommends crafting a “Wisdom Life Document” that leaves a legacy for your family, friends and community, sharing the stories and teachings that contributed to your growth in life. It’s also a wonderful way to preserve the wisdom of ancestors for future generations. Some technologically attuned seniors may even be inspired to record a video or mp3 of their stories.

In this ripe moment when the entire product landscape of HECM is shifting to potentially become something of a Prius in the reverse mortgage field (i.e., a “hybrid” for retirees), it might be an ideal time to expand the concept of transition and change, engage seniors in a discussion of their future plans, and encourage them to consider some of these creative ways to explore the legacy they wish to leave behind.


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  1. Almost two decades ago when she was in her mid seventies, my mother made a video to be played at her memorial service. In it she told all about those things she counted most dear. A decade ago the video was played at her memorial service where over 300 attended and helped us all in trying to say things we could not express at that time.

    Once my mother saw she would not be entertaining the way she once did, she gathered the women in our family in the next generation and divided up her china, silverware and other items so that there would be no squabbling about such things after her demise. She also used that time to divide up her jewelry and other items. By doing this, her passing meant little fighting.

    My mother and her friends learned to apprise others of the things they valued highly from the generation that taught them. If that generation had video, they no doubt would have made the videos that the next generation was doing. Isn’t this exactly how written and spoken history was passed down before the twentieth century?

    Even though I have experienced its value, I am not convinced that during a presentation of a reverse mortgage is the time or the place to discuss preparing for death outside of the financial ramifications. While it is important to show our personal concern for a senior, the HECM presentation is difficult enough for most seniors so bringing up a lot of other things (since this is not the only thing which has been suggested we discuss with seniors during the HECM presentation) seems more distraction than helping the senior to grasp the real issues about HECMs. In my calculus classes there was no time to discuss how the Watergate break-in or the break-in to get the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg would impact the future of American politics. For many seniors, a presentation of a HECM is as hard for many seniors to grasp as the original lecture on second derivations were for me so adding a lot of other things does not enhance the HECM presentation at all.

    Beyond the basic hindrance this type of discussion might bring to understanding HECMs, many seniors are offended when others come to them with all good intentions discussing things about their demise. So truthfully, this type of discussion seems out of place when presenting a HECM.

  2. Hello The Cynic,

    Thank you for this very moving account of your mother’s smart preplanning and memorial video. She sounds like a wonderful and wise woman!

    I completely agree, assimilating the information about a HECM is complex enough without adding anything else to the mix. When I speak of “engaging seniors in a discussion of their future plans” it’s more about the kind of information you describe, in order for the LO to gain greater insight into their client as well as to build rapport. Perhaps if someone expresses interest in transition planning, they could be given resources such as the site referenced above for further exploration on their own when the time is right.

  3. The Cynic does make a valid point. The story that was shared regarding cynics mother expressed some wonderful ideas that many seniors should consider . The property that is left to family after one passes can create unwanted situations and feelings left hurt. Depending on the family of course. Many families tend to have some dysfunctional qualities that could flare . My own family would still find complaint . My aunt actually died of a broken heart after her two daughters refused to make amends after a “living legacy” was in dispute. The problem also is our target market for HECM has changed , Gently offering the potential client reality is always an option . The product has changed as client has as well .

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