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Leave an Inheritance? Or Spend the Money Instead?

Once people hit retirement, they do not know how long they will live or how long their money will last. Still, the vast majority of retirees with children cling to an intention to leave something behind, even though many of those offspring have no expectation of receiving an inheritance.

Will you leave an inheritance to your children? Do you really need to?

Recent surveys suggest a failure-to-communicate exists between elderly parents and their adult children over the issue of the adult children's inheritances. More parents plan to leave inheritances for their children than there are adult children who expect to receive an inheritance.

This discovery prompted Ron Lieber to write an opinion piece in The New York Times titled "Parents, the Children Will Be Fine. Spend Their Inheritance Now."

The title, of course, gives away Lieber's opinion on the issue. He believes elderly parents should spend their money on themselves, even to the point of taking out "reverse mortgages" to tap the equity in their homes.

For many families, Lieber's suggestion is a good one. If the children do not want or need an inheritance, then it is reasonable for elderly parents to use it for their own lifestyles, as long as they are not merely being wasteful. However, not every family is the same.

Some adult children might be counting on an inheritance to help advance their own lifestyles or to help grandchildren. Have you priced a college education lately? Some adult children have special needs that parents can support. And, some elderly parents might just want to leave an inheritance because that is what makes them happy.

The key for any family is to communicate. In the end, an estate planning attorney can develop a plan for whatever your family desires.

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