Last week I took a vacation cruise with my extended family. On board were my husband and kids, my parents, my siblings and their families, and even their in-laws. It wasn’t even our first cruise together. (The first was to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.) I readily admit that a cruise isn’t my ideal vacation for a romantic getaway with my husband, or even for a vacation with my immediate family. But I have discovered this: a cruise makes for an excellent multi-generational family vacation.
Why am I talking about this in an estate planning blog? Because as an estate planning attorney, you spend most of your time with clients helping them plan for one sad but inevitable event (their death) and also for unpleasant contingencies (like disability and divorce).
So once in a while, might it be nice to encourage clients to plan for something enjoyable during their lifetimes – like a multi-generational vacation? After all, your job is to help clients leave the legacy that they desire. Part of that legacy is about spending time with family and making indelible memories. And this can be especially challenging when families are far flung.
Here’s why a cruise can be such a good vehicle (bad pun intended) for an inter-generational vacation: During the day, everyone does their own age-appropriate thing. Grandparents enjoy themselves and move about the ship at their own pace. Adult children can be with their parents as they need or want to be, or enjoy time to themselves. Teenage grandchildren can roam the boat freely. Younger children can attend the “kids’ camp” or be occupied in the kiddie pools. At the ports of call, a variety of age-appropriate excursions are available. Then, in the evenings, everyone has dinner together, and the togetherness can continue (or not) at the evening entertainment or other venue on the ship. Perfect.
So what should you do with this info? Of course I am not suggesting that your firm become a travel agency. Here are some ideas for what you might do to introduce to clients the concept of planning some multi-generational fun:
- Mention this idea in your client newsletter some time. “When it comes down to it, what most of us value about our families is spending time together…” “Have you been wanting to get your family all together on a vacation?” Some clients use a vacation home, cabin, or timeshare as a way to collect the family together, but not all clients have that option.
- Have some fun with this, too: Invite a travel agent to give a seminar for existing clients on good opportunities for inter-generational bonding through vacationing. Perhaps even find one who specializes in family or inter-generational travel. (While travel agents have largely become extinct for plane reservations, they still exist for planning cruises and other package vacations.). Consider asking the agent to offer a discount to clients who book with them as a result of the session, if this feels appropriate. .
- If you have an annual client maintenance program or employ a life care planning approach, consider offering this presentation as one of the program’s benefits. Ask the agent to donate some item or discount that can be raffled off at your annual client meeting.
- Suggest this idea to clients with family members who have physical disabilities or special needs. A cruise can actually be an excellent vacation option for folks with physical disabilities, whether old or young. Virtually everything is wheelchair accessible. The ship I took last week even had handicap lifts into the pool and hot tub, as well as extra-wide wheelchair accessible staterooms.
Let me know if you try any of these ideas and how it goes, so I can share with others. And in the meantime, enjoy your summer vacation!
Randi J. Siegel, MBA, is the President of DocuBank (docubank.com), the largest advance directives registry in the U.S., which ensures that the emergency information and healthcare directives of its 200,000 enrollees are immediately available 24/7/365. Working with estate planning professionals since 1997, Randi frequently speaks at national estate planning conferences and has appeared on radio and television as an authority on registries. A member of the International Society of Advance Care Planning, she is active in health policy and health education related to advance care planning and advance directives and serves as Pennsylvania liaison to the National Healthcare Decisions Day initiative. Randi is an ongoing contributor to the Academy blog.
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