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Leaving money to children is not a priority for baby boomers

April 19, 2011 |  2:41 pm

Marble House
If you’re counting on a lush inheritance from your baby boomer parents, think again.

A survey released Tuesday shows only 49% of wealthy parents say it’s important to leave money to their children when they die. Instead, many people plan to use their savings for travel and to focus on personal relationships, according to the study by U.S. Trust, a unit of Bank of America Corp.

The study up-ends the old notion of parents carefully tending their financial estates to be passed down at the reading of their wills.

“There is an expectation about the wealthy that they have an implicit, sacred responsibility to pass down their fortune to the next generation,” said Sallie Krawcheck, head of Bank of America’s wealth-management division. “Our research, however, uncovered a distinct generational mindset that reflects changing views about what retirement means and an evolving sense of what one generation owes the next.”

The survey polled 457 people nationwide with $3 million or more in investable assets.

Part of the reluctance to pass along their money may be that the survey respondents -– many of whom described themselves as self-made -– don’t trust their heirs with it.

Barely one-third of those surveyed expressed confidence that their children would be able to “handle” an inheritance. And 45% doubt their progeny will have sufficient financial maturity until they’re at least 35 years old.

Indeed, 52% of people haven’t revealed the extent of their wealth to their children, and 15% haven’t disclosed anything at all about their financial status, according to the survey.

They were blunt when asked why. Twenty-four percent fear their children would become lazy, 20% worry they’d make poor decisions and 20% think they’d squander their windfalls.


Opinion: Early retirement may be hazardous to your health

Survey finds 1 in 5 people are delaying early retirement

-- Walter Hamilton

Photo: Marble House in Newport, R.I., which was built in the late 1800s by the grandson of railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt. Credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press