Inheritance Expectations and Economic Downturns

Of the many generalizations attached to baby boomers, one piece of common wisdom has been that they stand to inherit a great deal of wealth from their Greatest Generation parents. The onslaught of bad news that accompanied the Great Recession and other factors has tempered that outlook, and the estate planning implications of this development are worth noting.

Recent Research On Inheritance

A recent report from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research, "How Important Are Inheritances for Baby Boomers?", examined the aggregate amount of this intergenerational transfer of wealth in light of the declining worth of real property and equities. The authors, research economists at the center, reviewed data specific to individuals born after 1945 and before 1965, and concluded that this demographic cohort will inherit over $8 trillion during their lifetimes.

The study found that two-thirds of the households with members in this age group will receive a median amount from wills, trusts and other sources of inheritance valued at $64,000. But that includes amounts already distributed, and the authors predict that undistributed wealth declined in value by as much as 13.1 percent during the latest economic recession, based on assessments of the S&P 500 Index, the Case-Shiller Index and other indicators.

What Does This Mean For You?

While the authors concede that inheritances will make a significant difference in the retirement preparedness of many boomers, they state that "even when inheritances do occur, recipients generally get the money when they are older and the amounts are typically not large enough to be life-changing." Two important factors beyond the economic downturn that also bear consideration are longer retirements among the parent generation and the increased impact of late-life health care expenses.

Long-Term Planning Is Crucial

A final generalization about baby boomers: Many are notoriously unprepared for the financial realities of their own retirements as their generation reaches its late 60s. By taking an honest and comprehensive look at their own long term financial plans and legacy intentions with an estate planning attorney, clients can take charge of financial realities at any stage of life.

If you need advice about how to develop an estate plan that can whether economic downturns, Prince Law Firm is here to help. To schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, call us at 248-419-1968 or send us an email.