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Generations show differing views on leaving assets to children

Each generation of people in this country has had different attitudes and approaches in dealing with important issues. This is perhaps one of the reasons grandparents, parents, and children don't always agree on how to tackle some of the bigger questions in life. Apparently, this is also true when it comes to the opinions that people from different generations have about inheritances.

According to a recent report by the research firm Hearts & Wallets, for example, a substantial percentage of Baby Boomers have no plans to leave assets to their children or other family members. By contrast, a survey from U.S. Trust showed that members of the Millennial generation felt more strongly about leaving an inheritance.

The U.S. Trust survey showed that 57 percent of the Baby Boomers in the study thought that it was important to pass down an inheritance. That number was sharply lower than the 74 percent of the surveyed Millennials who thought that leaving an inheritance was important. Members of Generation X fell in the middle: 66 percent of them felt the need to leave assets for the next generation.

Neither of the studies is necessarily a perfect representation of the opinions that each generation has about inheritances. Both studies focused on affluent people; the Hearts & Wallets study involved people with $500,000 or more of investable assets, and the U.S. Trust survey included only those people who had at least $3 million of investable assets.

The survey results might also be a little less clear than the numbers show when it comes to deciphering the attitudes of each generation. For example, both studies found that many of the Baby Boomers who responded that they would not leave an inheritance planned to give money or other assets to their children during their lifetime. Thus, these people still value passing down something to the next generation; they just prefer to do it during their own lifetimes.

Regardless of which generation a person belongs to, they are free to dispose of their estate as they see fit. People in Polk County who have substantial assets should at least think about what they plan to do with those assets later in life and beyond. Whether a person wants to leave an inheritance or distribute assets during their lifetime, an estate plan can accomplish these goals.

Source: Forbes, "How Boomer Parents Feel About Leaving Inheritances," Richard Eisenberg, Jan. 21, 2016

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