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The Changing Face of American Wealth

Estate planners and trustees should consider the distinctive social and demographic phenomena that shape their clients' needs

In 2008, the “boomer” generation had just begun to enter retirement when the great recession intervened, postponing plans for many, shattering dreams for some and suspending dialogue on a host of issues unique to wealth management and transfer for this generation. And while the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010's (the 2010 Tax Relief Act) generous transfer-tax exemptions may be the catalyst for revisions to their clients' wealth transfer plans, estate planners and financial advisors should consider several of the distinctive social and demographic phenomena that shape their clients' needs and perspectives. These changes should affect the way we think about how we'll serve a new generation of clients.

Data from the 2010 U.S. Census indicate that the geographic center of our population moved 25 miles south, to Plato, Mo., in the 10 years from 2000 to 2010. Hidden behind this positional phenomenon are several striking statistics: approximately 92 percent of U.S. population growth in the decade came from minorities; the Hispanic population in the United States grew 43 percent from 2000 to 2010; and over 36 percent of the U.S. population comprises Hispanic, Black, Asian, Native American or other non-white individuals.

Individuals and families among all of these groups are building and accumulating wealth, pointing to a need for estate planning and fiduciary services. What gaps exist between this need and our ability to understand some of the unique perspectives and practices that will shape their approach to wealth management and transfer?

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