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Boomers, Beware

Recent retirees Stan and Carla McCargo started married life in 1970 in a mobile home paid for with borrowed money. "Yessir, buddy," says Stan, 54, who retired this year as a United Parcel Service manager. Carla, 53, also retired this year after 27 years as a Duval County teacher. They prefer not to say how much they have, but signs are the couple has done well: Today they own a 21¼2-acre home on the St. Johns River that will have a woodshop for Stan and a weaving room for Carla. They look forward to trips overseas.

However much the McCargos have, it needs to last. Stan's mother is 78. Carla's mother is 84, and her great-grandmother lived to 110. "I don't plan on living forever, OK?" Stan says, but "in our family there's a possibility one of us, probably the wife, will live an awfully long time -- maybe 50 years."

In living long, the McCargos certainly won't be rare. They and the rest of the baby boom will swell the ranks of the elderly like no generation before them. As boomers age, people over 65 will make up 26% of the state's population by 2025, up from 18% now.

The McCargos are rare, however, in having planned, financially and otherwise, to go the distance. Jacksonville certified financial planner Hank Madden devised an eye-glazing system of multiple trusts and maneuvers to shrink the McCargos' taxable estate and stretch their assets to cover decades more of life.

Population experts and financial planners generally agree that boomers -- counting on the fountain of youth, in denial about retirement, averse to budgeting -- aren't ready to make their money last as long as the 25 to 30 post-retirement years they will experience. "Other than those who made it big, they're behind on the savings curve," says certified financial planner Dan Moisand, president of Optimum Financial Group in Melbourne. And behind on much else:

-- Financial plans. Age brings a raft of complicated questions like how to draw efficiently on IRAs, how much income can be earned while pulling in Social Security and how to reduce the estate tax. An issue for everyone: To accommodate longer lives, boomers will need to continue to focus on growth, rather than simply preserving assets. "You're really seeing a sea change in how we look at investing," says Boca Raton certified financial planner Mari Adam of Adam Financial Associates.

Despite the proliferation of do-it-yourself stock-picking advice, many will choose to use a professional. Longwood's Bob Harper, 55, who was laid off in 1995 from Westinghouse after 27 years as an accountant, says he doesn't have the time or interest to follow the market. He asked Ron Tamayo, a certified financial adviser in Maitland, to handle investing the retirement sum Westinghouse provided and also began a new job as assistant controller at Lombardi's Seafood, an Orlando-based processor and distributor. Second careers take pressure off portfolios, says Tamayo, of Spraker, Fitzgerald & Tamayo.

-- Career plans. Financial planners agree with experts on aging that having a purpose promotes good health -- even for those who don't need the money . Scott Westerman, 45, of Jacksonville, a former vice president for MediaOne, retired in 1998 thanks to having bought stock in MediaOne predecessor Continental Cablevision for a penny a share. Now, Westerman has three second careers -- a small recording company, mostly for folk artists making their first CDs; an overseas radio network broadcasting Christian mission programs; and the Emergency Email Network, which sends out weather warnings to pagers, cell phones and computers -- and provides a thrill for Westerman, a self-described "weather geek."

"There's all kinds of opportunities to do stuff you love and get paid for it," he says .
Charlene "Charlie" Clayton, a certified financial adviser with American Express, constructed a plan for Westerman and his wife, Colleen, 40, that includes designated funds the couple lives off today, a trust to protect assets for the Westermans' children, Shelby, 21, and Brandon, 19, and a bundle of money set aside for the Westermans to draw on once they turn 65.

-- Long-term care and the end of life. A lack of planning sometimes leads to family anguish and nasty fights as aging parents worry about trusting their affairs -- and care -- to their children's judgment. "The elderly are concerned about how they're going to live -- not how are they going to live financially -- how are they going to be maintained, who's going to take care of them," says Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub, chief executive of Fiduciary Trust International in Miami.

The alternative: Make a plan while healthy that everyone has to follow as you physically fail. The McCargos drew up living wills, powers-of-attorney and guardianship plans. "We have to consider all the aspects -- no matter how uncomfortable they are," says Stan McCargo.

Cashing In
Lots of people look to profit from the rising tide of seniors in Florida. Take the financial planning industry. Brand names in brokerage, insurance and the likes of American Express have big plans for the state. A "wide open market," says Craig Taucher, group vice president for American Express in central and north Florida. He expects American Express to double its number of financial advisers in his regions in the next five to six years. The company now has 630 advisers statewide.

The coming influx from major companies has some independents drawing up plans of their own. For example, Coral Gables' Evensky, Brown & Katz plans to go national with its Evensky Group Private Family Office concept. It includes reviews of portfolios and insurance, an on-staff concierge and Internet access to wills and policies. Partner Harold Evensky wants to merge with like-minded financial planners nationally. Indeed, many independents are talking some form of alliances with accounting and other professionals.

Independents argue they have more personal services. Larger companies tout their economies of scale. Consumers should be the winners, most agree.

"It's an extremely hot field," Evensky says.

How Much?
People err in assuming they can earn 10% a year on their nest egg and live off that, says Ron Tamayo, a Maitland certified financial planner. That expectation puts too much pressure on a portfolio subject to market volatility. A better expectation: Plan on living off 40% of the 10%. So if a $1 million nest egg gains 10% a year, $100,000, figure on living on only 40% of that, or $40,000. You likely will live a long time. You'll want the money.

In Your 30s
Distill the financial planning advice for people in their 30s, and the essence is simple: Save as much as you can in an IRA or 401(k).