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Help Mom and Dad retire like millionaires

Who wants their parents to live in retirement like millionaires?

You do, of course.

Heck, only the greediest, most ungrateful child would want Mom and Dad to scrimp and save into their golden years, denying themselves the fruits of their hard-earned labor just so they can bestow a king's ransom on their heirs.

But the fact is, many parents -- and especially those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II -- find it hard to kick their thrifty ways despite incessant pleas from their grown children to loosen the purse strings and live a little.

"In America, many of us believe that we are measured by the amount we leave and that it's a measure of how we lived our lives," says Stephen M. Pollan, author of the best-selling Die Broke. "That is total bull. What the kids can do is say, 'Mom and Dad, we don't need it. We want you to spend it.' "

And that will be easier if it's actually true, adds E. Glenn Tucker, estate planner for Rhodes & Tucker of Marco Island, Fla.

"No. 1 is to be self-sufficient ourselves, so they don't have this guilt feeling about us needing their help," says Tucker. "That's a primary thing. Be independent and don't put a burden on your parents."

Retirement Camelot
Before considering the ways you can help Mom and Dad retire like millionaires, it's important to understand how retirement came to be in the first place. During the Depression, when things were looking none too bright for the working American, the government offered up the vision of a leisurely retirement as a morale boost to a beaten-down work force.

"It was a fiction created by Franklin D. Roosevelt as a social experiment that did not work," says Pollan.

Or rather, it worked once -- sort of like Camelot.

Following World War II, U.S. economic expansion, fueled in part by the demand for goods and services created by the post-war baby boom, made widespread retirement possible for the first time in history.

Today, those 76 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are on the receiving end of the largest transfer of wealth in history -- an estimated $1.4 trillion -- much of it the result of having been one of the extra 17 million Americans who put the boom in the post-war economy.

In all likelihood, Americans will never again be able to retire as early -- or as well -- as they can today.

Let's face it, Mom and Dad went through a lot to raise you. Here are some ways to help them live like millionaires, even if they're not.

Home moves
Homeownership gives seniors a variety of attractive "millionaire" options, including downsizing, purchasing income property, establishing a personal residence trust and drawing their equity out with a reverse mortgage:

Home moves:
 
 
Next: "So here's to you, mom and dad!"
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