Generational Wealth: 7 Reasons Boomers Aren’t Leaving Their Kids as Much as Expected

High-net-worth individuals from Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerburg have publicly stated they don’t plan to leave an inheritance to their children, GOBankingRates recently reported.

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Some plan to donate money to charity. Others — like the musician Sting, with a net worth of $550 million — said he plans to spend most of his money. He told the Daily Mail that he has instilled a solid work ethic in his children, so he doesn’t expect to have to help them out financially.

Yet it’s not just celebs and top names on the Bloomberg Billionaires list who don’t plan to leave a conventional inheritance to their loved ones. Even though Baby Boomers may transfer as much as $68 trillion in wealth to younger generations by 2030, it may not come through traditional methods. We spoke to financial advisors to find out why.

1. Parents Want to Minimize Sibling Squabbles

Joe Farren, president and partner at Aquilance, a wealth advisory firm for high-net-worth individuals and families, said he sees many parents distributing funds while they’re still alive for a variety of reasons.

“Some parents aren’t leaving an inheritance after they pass away. They’re giving their kids the money now,” he said. “I think it’s an attempt to minimize the family dynamic squabbles after the fact, where Mom and Dad are gone and now the kids are fighting.”

2. They Are Donating to Charity

One way to avoid fighting over an inheritance is to leave it all to charity, a strategy many celebrities are embracing. For those who opt to take this path, Farren said, you can still involve your adult children.

“They should have a broad discussion with the entire family about values and what is important. Is it helping the community broadly? Is it arts? Is it education? The generation that is not inheriting the wealth can still have a say in how that wealth gets distributed and used in the most effective way,” Farren said.  

3. They Want to Teach Kids How to Manage Money

High net-worth individuals may also want to ensure their family’s legacy lives on for more than just one more generation. That often means being around to guide adult children into wise financial choices. Many families have lost their wealth within a handful of generations, Farren pointed out.

“The inheritance is spread thinly, and subsequent generations don’t know how to maintain, keep, and/or generate their own wealth,” he said. “If the wealth-generators, for lack of a better word, are still around as resources for their kids, the kids aren’t just flying blind at that point.”

Farren said that, often, high-net-worth families can provide adult children with tremendous opportunities, including an education, resources and seed-funding for business initiatives. But it’s up to the next generation to become self-sufficient after receiving those advantages. “Given every opportunity to succeed in life, now they need to do so on their own,” Farren explained.  

4. They Want to See the Positive Impact Now

It’s not just wealthy families that are embracing the concept of a living inheritance, as Sean Lovison, CFP, CPA and founder of Purpose Built Financial Services, LLC, called it. “Many boomers prioritize experiences and helping their children now. They choose to fund their grandchildren’s college, make down payments or even support their children while they launch businesses.”

5. They Want to Enjoy It All

Lovison said this new philosophy is partially based on Bill Perkins’ bestselling finance book, “Die with Zero: Getting All You Can From Your Money and Your Life.”

“Traditionally, boomers have prioritized leaving an inheritance. However, there’s a shift. The ‘Die with Zero’ philosophy resonates with the desire to fully enjoy their retirement years,” Lovison said.

6. They Don’t Have Much Left to Give

Of course, there’s not always a choice of what to do with your money in retirement. A recent study from Empower, reported by GOBankingRates, revealed that 67% of Americans would like to leave an inheritance to their loved ones, but 34% fear they may not be able to.

“In the past, you worked and saved money in your retirement accounts,” said Patrick Simasko, Elder Law Attorney and Financial Advisor at Simasko Law Firm. “This was extra money over and above your Social Security Income and monthly pension. That meant much more leftover for their families. Now that pensions are virtually non-existent, retirees have Social Security Income and their 401(k) to live on. People just don’t have a lot left over.”  

7. Money is Going Toward Long-Term Care Instead

One of the biggest culprits that’s eating away at retirement funds is long-term care. “A third of us will need long-term care for an average of 32 months, but very few of us have long-term care insurance. Many people must self-pay for the care. All of that will eat into any inheritance you plan on leaving behind,” Simasko said.

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“Unexpected healthcare and long-term care costs associated with extended lifespans drain retirement savings,” Lovison agreed. “The middle-class is not immune to this. Boomers sometimes find themselves with less to pass on than they’d hoped.”

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This article originally appeared on Generational Wealth: 7 Reasons Boomers Aren’t Leaving Their Kids as Much as Expected

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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