I just read an article from the LA Times that I have to share with you. The story is about the fact that the author just discovered, through a survey, that a large percentage of baby boomers are not planning to, or at least are not worried about, leaving an inheritance to their children. As an estate planning attorney, I am not seeing this much. However, as an elder law attorney, I am hearing it quite often from the boomer children of elderly parents.
My elder law practice focuses on long term care planning and emphasizes planning for quality of life’s through quality care of elders. While we do asset protection as part of the long term care planning, it is not intended to protect the assets for the children to enjoy, but instead for the children to use to provide quality care for the parents. I frequently hear the boomer children say to Mom or Dad, “we just want to make sure there is enough money to care for you; if there is anything left for us after that, fine, but don’t worry if there is nothing left for us.” Perhaps I hear this so often because it is the PC thing to say or maybe I am putting the words in the children’s mouths. Nevertheless, I believe that it is heartfelt by the children.
Boomer children, I believe, are setting the example that children should not expect an inheritance. As boomer parents (yes, I am one), we have given our children good educations and helped launch them into life, sometimes helping them with the purchase of their first homes and the amounts we have spent on their weddings is outrageous! We have admittedly experienced better earning levels than any prior generation and were able to buy our homes in desirable neighborhoods when they were actually affordable.
Now, as we enter our “golden years” we expect to live as well as we always have done. We enjoy life and are not worried about spending money to do so. When we get to the point where we need care, I cannot see us saying, “I want to save my money for my children.” No, I believe we will not hesitate to spend whatever it costs to provide for the best quality of care that we can afford for ourselves and will not worry about leaving anything for our children just as we told our parents to not worry about leaving anything for us.