For heirs, the emotions that come with sudden wealth can be a mix of guilt, loss, anger, regret, relief and hurt, perhaps stewed with long-simmering family rivalries and resentments.
Much of estate planning focuses on the technical aspects of leaving behind or receiving an inheritance. Commonly, these include the tax questions, the legal questions, and the nitty-gritty details. In the midst of all of the numbers and code sections, it is easy to overlook the very emotional nature of inheritance itself.
Indeed, the Boomers of today are experiencing an unprecedented period of wealth transfer. What does it mean for a Boomer to inherit these days? The New York Times approached the subject a short time ago in an article titled “When Boomers Inherit, Complications May Follow.“
We all know that the Baby Boomers are a unique generation in terms of demographics and healthcare, not to mention their relationship to the very history and spirit of the country since their arrival. But did you know that Boomers are in the process of receiving the greatest inheritance windfall in the history of the country? Indeed, and that inheritance is estimated at some $8.4 trillion spread across some 79 million Baby-Boomers.
Against this backdrop, what does inheriting mean? What do you do with an inheritance and how do you deal with having it?
While it is easy to think of an inheritance as nothing more than money, it seems to mean something far more depending on the individual inheritor. Some may receive it as a gift to be honored, some sense spite in it, and others are quick to spend it away. The original article collects a number of voices from diverse viewpoints along the inheritance spectrum.
If you are inheriting, consider pausing for a moment now to think about what that may mean to you. For that matter, this personal reflection can guide you through your own estate planning. How are you leaving an inheritance for your heirs? Why are you leaving it as you are?