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Leaving a Legacy - The Australian Seniors Series

As we age, most of us start to think about the legacy we want to leave behind for our loved ones. Interestingly though, leaving a financial legacy is becoming less important to us Australian seniors. In fact, many of us are hoping to be remembered instead for the emotional, charitable and environmental impact we leave behind.

The Leaving a Legacy report is the thirteenth instalment of The Australian Seniors Series, an ongoing national study investigating the shifting attitudes and concerns affecting Australia’s over 50s. This chapter explores how we’d like to be remembered and the impact we’ve had on our loved ones.
 

Leaving a Legacy - The Australian Seniors Series [infographic]

Leaving a legacy doesn’t start after we pass away; instead, many of us see the actions we’ve taken throughout our lifetimes already having an impact. Most of us have provided the younger people in our families with life opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise had, including the independence and confidence to pursue their financial aspirations (67.6%) and greater access to education opportunities (58.0%).

When it comes to accepting others even if they do not fit the social norms (70.6%) and wanting to help other people (68.4%), we’re proud role models for the younger generations. To see our legacies in action and know we’ve helped make positive changes to the world is an incredible feeling, and we’re delighted to see these parts of ourselves thrive in our children and grandchildren.

Unsurprisingly, most of us would prefer to be remembered for our emotional legacy over our financial one. The most popular ones we would like to pass down are attitudes, beliefs and values (80.9%), sentimental belongings (75.6%) and life learnings (62.0%). Over eight in ten of us fear there is too much emphasis on the importance of financial legacy these days (85.2%) and only half (50.5%) of us believe the younger generations value emotional legacies more than financial ones.

The focus on getting a financial inheritance is concerning – many of us are worried not just for the financial security of younger generations in our families (66.1%), but also for their career or job prospects (59.6%), safety from security risks (58.6%) and the environmental impact on the world they will live in (54.2%).

Naturally, our concerns for our children, grandchildren and the future generations of our family play on our minds when we think about what we are actually leaving behind. When it comes to our involvement in charity work, nine in ten of us say we regularly donate money to charitable organisations and to a lesser extent of us who volunteer with our local community (63.5%). We love to get involved to help those who are in need (72.1%), to give back to the community (70.5%) and to set a good example to our families (42.1%)

While we might disagree with our younger family members on a variety of issues, one thing we all seem to agree on is that past generations have done considerable damage to the environment (78.9% of seniors and 93.4% of younger Australians), and that it is the younger generations who will pay the price (94.1% and 98.1%).

The upside of this regret is that the most of us now believe that an environmental legacy is more enduring (86.4%) and more important (81.7%) than leaving a financial legacy. With this in mind, the overwhelming majority of us seniors (94.5%) see ourselves as being environmentally-conscious in our day-to-day habits. We regularly reuse old containers and jars and even repair our own clothes instead of buying new ones.

In fact, almost nine in ten of us think the younger generations could learn from us seniors about making a positive environmental impact! Our legacy is to reduce the throw-away culture that today’s youth are known for.

We have all had an impact on our loved ones throughout our lifetimes. Some of us have passed on turns of phrase and social attitudes, others have acted as role models for how to treat others, and others still have helped blaze trails for our children and grandchildren.

No matter what we’ve done, one thing remains the same – we all want to be remembered by our friends and family and leave behind a positive emotional, charitable and environmental legacy, helping make the world better for the next generation.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of the Australian Seniors Series! A report for seniors, by Seniors.


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Leaving a Legacy Data Report [pdf]