Inheritances appear to play lesser role in retirements

Most boomers fail to receive windfalls

Your Money

October 30, 2005|By MARKETWATCH

NEW YORK -- If inheritance is a major factor in your retirement equation, it might be wise to do the math again. The prediction of a huge generational transfer of wealth may, in fact, be a bust.

At one time, experts forecast that the World War II generation - reputed to be a generation of savers - would pass on about $10 trillion in assets to their children, the baby boomers.

The boomers - a generation of spenders - thought they could use their inheritance to pad their retirement, finance college education for their children or spend as they pleased. It was a windfall in the waiting.

But for one thing, the elderly are living longer and better. They're dipping into savings, enjoying themselves and leaving far less cash behind.

An AARP study showed that about five in six boomers reported that they had not received an inheritance by 2001. Also as of 2001, about five in six said they did not expect to receive an inheritance in the future.

Counting on inheritances might be a serious miscalculation. The boomers who inherit probably won't have enough to form the backbone of a retirement plan.

What boomers can do is to assume that they are on their own financially and take care to manage their money as effectively as possible. Then, if they do receive an inheritance, it will be an added bonus, rather than a temporary crutch.

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