Today is my 69th birthday. Growing up, I thought I would have retired by now. Everyone was supposed to retire at 65, right? It seems that almost every day someone asks me when I plan to retire. But as I celebrate this birthday today, I have no intention of retiring, ever!
Of course, I’m realistic. When the day comes that my mind or body gives out, I’ll hang it up. I have empowered my partners John Hunter and Amanda Holliday to make that call if I’m unaware. So far, so good. I’m hoping the gene pool I’ve inherited from my mom allows me to mimic her. Thankfully, my mom, Elsie, is 92 and still 100% sharp and going strong!
Since I know I won’t be here forever, I’m making sure my business has a succession plan in place, unlike Logan Roy of HBO’s “Succession” series that I’ve written about. Speaking of “Succession,” WealthManagmement.com ran a follow-up article I wrote about the succession planning failures in the show where I proposed the Mara family, owners of the New York Giants, as basis for the next succession drama. The family and the football franchise have certainly had plenty of sensational headline-worthy happenings to use as inspiration. To read the article, click here.
The U.S. retirement age was set at 65 in 1935. Of course, lifestyles and longevity in 2023 are a world away from 1935. My best friend, Talmage Boston, makes this point in his article, “Baby Boomers are Delaying Retirement, and it’s Not Just Because of Finances” (Dallas Morning News, Nov. 8, 2020). Talmage’s thesis is that “60 is the new 40.”
Furthermore, those fortunate enough to be engaged in a fulfilling career aren’t inclined to walk away while still healthy. Talmage cites examples: cellist Yo Yo Ma, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, investment guru David Rubenstein, infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who worked until her death at age 87).
Per Talmage, “deciding when to retire is an issue still on the table, though clarity about it has recently kicked in, thanks to my law school best friend Marvin Blum. Marvin has been one of the leading estate planning lawyers in the country for decades and has a thriving firm. He continues to love his work and enjoys warm-hearted fellowship with his colleagues at the office. Here’s his explanation for why retirement is not on his radar. ‘Staying present and engaged with my estate planning practice and law firm brings me energy and peace at the same time.’” I’m grateful to be able to keep doing what I love. Thanks, Talmage, for including me in such esteemed company and telling my story so generously.
The Wall Street Journal echoes this theme in “When Will I Retire? How About Never” (by Demetria Gallegos, April 20, 2023). Gallegos tells the stories of 16 people who have no intention of retiring, still finding meaning in their careers. I’ll add one more to the list: Stanley Johanson, my UT Law professor and mentor and the man responsible for my own fulfilling career.
It was 45 years ago that I had a “eureka” moment in Johanson’s class and discovered my destiny as an estate planning lawyer. Johanson, about to start his 61st year as a UT Law professor, is still as sharp and charismatic as ever. Like me, the word “retirement” isn’t in his vocabulary. Professor, thanks for turning me onto estate planning and thanks too for the inspiration to follow in your footsteps and wake up every day energized with a purpose.
Marvin E. Blum
Marvin Blum (front row, left of center) is following the example of his mentor, Professor Stanley Johanson, pictured at the celebration of Johanson’s 50th year on the University of Texas Law faculty. Ten years later, Johanson is still going strong and shows no intention of retiring.