The headline was as bold as it was brassy: Parents, the Children Will Be Fine. Spend Their Inheritance Now.
The story itself takes us --parents of grown children--to task for wanting to save some of our nest egg for our children. As in, we "cling to an intention to leave something behind." This devotion, we're told, "may also be the height of foolishness."
Here's the rationale: After we've spent nearly two decades investing tens of thousands of dollars to rear and educate each of our children (and for an increasing number of us, backstopping our kids who are not quite financially independent), we should not feel obligated to provide even more money for them. We would do better to spend our retirement money in the here and now--either creating meaningful memories with our grown kids and their kids or on top-notch care that can make our elder years more comfortable and graceful.
Nor do most of our kids want us to save our money for them. According to recent research, if we were to ask our grown children about whether they are counting on an inheritance, the answer is likely to be no. In an article that the journal The Gerontologist published last year, Kyungmin Kim and four colleagues polled both older Americans and their adult children about whether they expected to leave or receive an inheritance.
The results: Among the parents (ages 59 to 96), 86.2 percent expected to leave a bequest. But just 44.6 percent of the children (ages 40 to 60), thought they would get one.
There was this P.S. to the stats: "Although bequest decisions are circumscribed by parent's financial resources, our findings suggest that they are also a continuation of established patterns of exchanges."
Another survey in 2014 by the Insured Retirement Institute found that our expectations about bequests had changed. Today, only 46 percent of boomer-age parents believe it’s important to leave an inheritance to loved ones. In the past, that figure was closer to two-thirds.
Of course, there's no saying how much that bequest--expected or unexpected--might be. It might be all that's left after we've spent what we could on ourselves (and the memorable moments)--and ran out of time to spend it all.