Baby Boomers to Kids: Inheritance? Maybe Not

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Mariangela Petrone of Bronx, New York, rides an all-terrain vehicle she wrapped in the final round of the Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest in New York December 3, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine-Scotch Brand/Handout

By Jennifer Hoyt Cummings / REUTERS

(Reuters) – Most young, wealthy Americans believe it’s important to pass money on to their heirs. They may be disappointed to learn that their parents don’t feel the same way.

In an annual survey of the wealthy released on Monday by U.S. Trust, a division of Bank of America Corp, three-quarters of wealthy adults under age 46 said it’s a priority to leave money for their kids.

But just 55 percent of Baby Boomers – those age 47 to 66 -said they share that sentiment. In fact, one of every three surveyed said they’d rather leave money to charity than to their kids.

Their reasoning? Some said they believe that each generation should create its own wealth, while others said it’s more important to invest in children’s success while they are growing up, according to the survey of 642 individuals who have at least $3 million in investable assets.

“Our survey points to a shift in generational behavior and outlook, most likely shaped by personal experience and societal responses to economic realities,” said Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust.

Most of those surveyed don’t even talk to their kids about money: just 37 percent said they’ve fully disclosed their net worth to their children. Those over age 67 said they weren’t having this discussion because they were raised not to discuss money, while younger respondents said they didn’t want to inhibit their kids’ work ethic.

A few other highlights from the study:

* Six in 10 wealthy parents are not fully confident their children will be well-prepared to handle an inheritance. Baby Boomers have the least degree of confidence.

* Forty-two percent of Baby Boomers and 54 percent of those under age 46 are paying medical costs for their parents or other relatives.

* Two-thirds of those surveyed have not made, nor do they have plans to make, a monetary gift to family members to reduce the size of their taxable estate before the end of 2012, when tax laws are expected to change.

(Reporting by Jennifer Hoyt Cummings; Editing by Dan Grebler)