The heirs of wealthy Baby Boomers shouldn’t be assuming that they’ll be inheriting a pot of gold when their parents pass away. Less than half of millionaires who are members of the famously selfish generation—boomers, not their kids—think it’s important to leave money to their children. What’s more important, apparently, is for boomers to enjoy their golden years.
The survey of Baby Boomers, conducted by the investment firm U.S. Trust (and summed up by the Los Angeles Times), reveals that increasingly, Gen Xers and other boomer offspring shouldn’t expect a handout when their parents die. A surprisingly low 49% of millionaire boomer parents said that leaving money to their kids was a priority.
Though boomers have a reputation for selfishness, many boomers see themselves quite differently. After decades of personal and professional sacrifices for the sake of their children, and after paying for their kids’ educations and perhaps helping them with down payments on first homes, boomers have reached the point that enough is enough. And after shaping their lives around the needs of their children, and, in essence, dishing out here and there what would have been one honey of an impressive inheritance if given in one lump sum upon one’s death, boomers believe their days of sacrifice are over. As one expert told the LA Times:
“I do not see my baby boomer clients giving up a vacation or wine or dinners out so that they can leave more money to their children, because they feel like they’ve already done it for their kids,” said Susan Colpitts, executive vice president of a wealth management firm in Norfolk, Va.
Boomer parents haven’t just stopped worrying about their kids. Instead, what aging boomers seem to be saying, through the survey and their actions, is that they don’t have much confidence in their children’s financial sense, and throwing more money at them isn’t going to help. So why not just use the money to enjoy yourself and take that round-the-world cruise?
In the U.S. Trust survey, one-fifth of boomers fear their children would squander any inheritance, and one-quarter worry an inheritance would make their heirs lazy (lazier?). Just 36% strongly agree that their children will be able to work together to make financial decisions once their boomer parents are gone. The majority of millionaire boomers (52%) even keep their kids in the dark as to exactly how much they’re worth.
That’s good, I suppose. If the children and grandchildren knew everything, they’d probably be resentful about how much potential inheritance money their boomer forefathers blew in their golden years, rather than remembering how generous and supportive their boomer parents were when they were alive.