Changing of the Guard: Leaving Your Children an Inheritance








It seems there’s another way that we’re different from our parents – we’re planning on leaving next to nothing to our kids.

As Walter Hamilton at the L.A. Times discusses, the days of carefully building wealth that can be passed on to the next generation are over.

“They say, ‘If there’s something at the end I’d love [them] to have it, but what’s important for me now is to get what I’ve earned, which is to travel and have a nice bottle of wine,'” said Susan Colpitts, executive vice president of a wealth management firm in Norfolk, Va.

One thing holding boomers back is the shaky economy. With longer life expectancies and fewer safety nets, it pays to make sure that assets last an entire lifetime.

Another thing is that the cost of supporting kids and other family members has increased. College educations now cost a small fortune and lots of kids are asking for help with home improvements or down payments.

This means many boomers are already giving the equivalent of an inheritance but are doing it while still alive, said Ken Dychtwald, chief executive of research firm Age Wave.

As boomer Carol Willison puts it, “I’ve given them a terrific foundation in life. If they can’t make it on their own now, they can never make it. I’ve done my job. Now I’m going to enjoy life.”

Good on you, Carol.


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  • Too many boomers have given their kids a all the electronic gadgets they can fit into their bedrooms and their backpacks as well as a free ride to college. What this has taught these kids is ole Mom & Dad will always be there to give them what they think they need without ever learning about the time, energy, and sacrifice it takes to earn these things. Now that my kids are on their own and I have chosen NOT to give them everything in the past, but to teach them they need to learn to take care of themselves, I want to help ease them into their own retirement later on if I can, but they understand they can’t count on it as I just don’t know what the future holds. I never have counted on my folks for an inheritance, so my kids shouldn’t either. Where did the notion parents are supposed to leave a big chunk of change to their kids come from anyway? I want my folks to have as much fun as possible in their later years, not scrimp for me or my siblings.

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