Trust Estate

Freedom From Wealth, Aging - Why Priorities Matter

Charles Lowenhaupt, October 8, 2019


Preparation starts with setting priorities.  What is most important and what can be forsaken as frailties set in? The author of this article, a familiar figure in this industry, considers the answers to such questions.

Time waits for no-one – including high net worth individuals. Aging brings its challenges – and its comforts and rewards. Managing how to deal with longer lifespans when considerable wealth is involved raises certain questions. Of course for the wealthy, their assets create options that those far less well-off do not have. 

A familiar figure in the North American and international wealth management arena is Charles A Lowenhaupt, managing member of Lowenhaupt & Chasnoff. (We have recently covered changes at his business here.) A published author and a speaker about industry issues, Charles explores managing wealth and planning for aging here. The editors are very pleased to share these observations and invite readers to respond. Email and

Renowned psychologist Erik Erikson said that in looking back on life in old age, a person either feels pride in accomplishments or regret about what has not been accomplished. Erikson suggests that this is the stage in life in which people are relatively passive and almost entirely contemplative. It is a stage of satisfaction or depression. 

Today, people are taking better care of themselves, are healthier and are more vibrant as they age. We have a president and at least two other candidates seeking the highest office in the land who are over 70 years old. The world is full of people we would consider elderly yet actively engaged in business, academia, politics and philanthropy. They are not sitting in rocking chairs contemplating the past; they are actively chasing dreams. 

Yet, no one can stop the progression of aging. What individuals and families can prevent is being unprepared for it. In our experience, those who properly plan for older age are most likely to enjoy their golden years – to enjoy freedom from wealth on their own terms. This may be especially true for wealth creators who chased their dreams earlier in life, and still have dreams they want to pursue. 

It all starts with planning 
Almost everywhere I go these days the topic of aging is comes up. It’s always a difficult conversation for individuals and family office professionals. Quite often, everyone tiptoes around the issue because so much is at stake. At what point does the wealth creator relinquish control? What role does the family and/or advisors play during this last transition of life? Will the wealth inheritors stay with the parent’s wealth management firm?

The organizing principle for managing the situation is actually another question: How do active people continue chasing their dreams even as they age? Answer: They do it through thoughtful planning. They plan their lives and their dreams so that they can chase them even as their capabilities diminish. 

Preparation starts with setting priorities. What is most important and what can be forsaken as frailties set in? As important, there must be contingency plans for when the individual may need to adjust their dreams to fit their capability. Priorities and contingency plans also need to be communicated to people who can help maintain them and execute the plans. Fundamentally, success in aging requires finding support not only in the day-to-day living of life, but also in adhering to and adjusting priorities. 

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