Will You Leave Your Children an Inheritance?

Is the baby boomer generation concerned about leaving an inheritance to their children? A recent article discusses that topic and interviews boomers who have considered the issue themselves. My speculation and belief is that: (a) many boomers won’t have anything to leave, even if they wanted to; and (b) they shouldn’t worry about leaving an inheritance anyway. Personally, I have adopted a hybrid position on this issue.

From what I read, the generation above us was much more interested in leaving money to their children. I’m not sure why that is, unless they feel that their children were deprived before they became adults. These folks insist that funding an inheritance be part of their financial and retirement plans, even if it means depriving themselves. Even more extreme and financially risky is giving adult children an “advance” on their theoretical inheritance while the parents are still alive.

I don’t fully understand this “I must leave money to my children” attitude. Do you?

Another possibility is that some retirees have become aware of how incompetent and careless their adult children are with money. They feel bad Рand maybe even partially responsible for this Р as if the parents had not properly instructed their kids in how to handle money. Their solution is to give their adult children money while they are alive and then even more when the parents die.

My position: The parents’ job is to give their children a solid foundation in all aspects of life. This has been our goal, including providing our three sons with an education without debt. After that, it is up to your children (and ours) to construct their own lives on top of that foundation. I can imagine that some adult children – believing that their parents will leave them money – will become less responsible with their own money.

That is why we are taking a hybrid approach. We want to leave a family legacy but not necessarily in cash. Unless there are radical changes in circumstances, our lake home will pass on to our sons, in a trust for their mutual ongoing benefit. We want this to be an asset that will bond them and their families together, just as it has become an important gathering place for our nuclear family and for our parents, siblings, cousins, and their families for the past 8 years.

Our retirement plan does not require any inheritance beyond that. If our expenses remain manageable and our investments do well, there likely will be money left over when we pass on. But no one – including us – should assume that or plan for that. We have done our jobs. Our boys (men now) must do theirs.

The link to the LA Times article is below. What are your plans for leaving an inheritance? Please leave a comment for all to share!! If you are reading this by email, please click back to leave a comment as well. Thanks!

Many baby boomers dont plan to leave their children an inheritance


  1. says

    My husband and I don’t have children, but we do have a whole bunch of nieces, nephews, and their offspring. They figure in our estate planning, mostly because we wonder what the heck they’d do with a large sum of money if we were to die early.

    You touch on one sore point for us: that we see the following generations being ‘careless and incompetent’ with money. If they ‘manage’ money to the extent that they have to go to the older generations for money, or heck, LIVE with them, then what are they doing with smart phones?

    I know there are different priorities, different values placed on money, but it sure gives me pause, and my father in law, as well. He’s with us this weekend, and we were just talking about this very topic this morning.

    He and my mom in law saved family money, and I know that he wants to pass that down to his kids, not because they were deprived, but because he’d like them to have the same sense of security he has had from having that financial cushion.

    The way I feel, I want to leave money to the next generation, but I would hope that they’d use it for savings, or a rainy day fund, or something like that. However, I think there’ll be a lot of new toys in the family before I see any savings account numbers go up.

    That is, if any of them HAVE a savings account.

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