Content starts here

The Takeaway: Inheritance Wake-up Call for Boomers (That Windfall Isn't Coming)

Whither boomer's  inheritances? Not coming, perhaps. "The post-war generation is living longer and increasingly using their savings to live out their retirement," the Wall Street Journal notes. Which could mean many boomers are in for an unpleasant wake-up call soon.

There are way too many adult children I see who are looking at mom and dad's estate as their ticket to a secure retirement," M. Holly Isdale, an estate planner in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told WSJ. "But with people living longer, much of the money is likely to be spent."

A few inheritance stats:

  • From 2006 to 2010, falling asset values reduced projected inheritances for boomers an estimated 13 percent, according to Boston College's Center for Retirement Research Stock.
  • Affluent families are also scaling back on inheritances. Among those with $250,000 or more in investable assets, only 41 percent said preserving inheritances was a top concern, according to a recent Merrill Lynch survey. That's down from 54 percent in 2009.
  • Boomers and their kids could still inherit $27 trillion over the next four decades, according to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College. But much of this will be transferred between the already wealthy.

So: Expected inheritances may vanish. Boomers could also end up spending their own savings to help pay for elderly parents' care.

Nancy Becker, profiled in the journal article, said her parents were diligent savers and owned a house a Vermont. "But they didn't imagine living well into their 90s," 63-year-old Becker said. Though she and siblings inherited a house in Vermont, they spent more than the property is worth to help pay for their mom's care in her final years (she died at 97 last year).

Now, as Becker's in-laws enter their 90s, she worries that "their money is running out, too."

Although many adult children are hesitant to bring up the subject with parents, financial advisers say it is important for families to talk about financial matters, to at least establish realistic expectations.

Thursday Quick Hits: 

  • Are Medicaid fraud audits worth it? A government program to fight Medicaid fraud cost at least $102 million in auditing fees since 2008, while recovering less than $20 million in fraudulent payments, investigators found.

Photo:  Imagewerks/Getty Images

Search AARP Blogs