Baby Boomers are set to inherit $8.4 trillion, and have already inherited $2.4 trillion, according to The MetLife Study of Inheritance and Wealth Transfer to Baby Boomers. Overall, two-thirds of Baby Boomers stand to receive some inheritance in their lifetime.
The median amount that Baby Boomers will receive is $64,000, with the wealthiest being bequeathed $1.5 million, and those on the other end of the spectrum being left with $27,000.
MetLife also found that many parents of Boomers are giving them substantial sums of money while they are still alive, boosting the total transfer of assets by another $3.2 trillion, for $11.6 trillion in total transfer of assets.
Put in perspective, this is a significant figure, MetLife said, given that the total household wealth for all Americans in 2007 was $65.9 trillion.
Nonetheless, MetLife advised Boomers not to rely on an inheritance to boost their retirement savings. “Any prospective inheritance is uncertain,” cautioned Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “Parents or grandparents who expect to leave a bequest may revise their plans based on fluctuations in their asset values. Wealth may be consumed by medical or long-term case costs—or simply by virtue of long life.”
Likewise, policymakers should not expect this wealth transfer to solve the nation’s pending retirement crisis, added Alicia H. Munnell, co-author of the study and director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. “Policymakers should be developing policies and programs to boost Americans’ savings and promote longer work lives.”