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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

Boomers' Inheritance: Windfall Or Pratfall?

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Predictions of inheritance windfalls for baby boomers are overstated significantly, a new AARP study suggests.

As of 2004, 81% of boomers–those born between 1946 and 1964–had yet to receive an inheritance, AARP’s analysis of Federal Reserve data shows.

The findings come amid continuing projections by some experts of huge dollar transfers to boomers and the other cohorts through inheritances. Some estimates have been as high as $41 trillion, while a projection of $7 trillion for boomers alone has not been unusual, AARP points out.

According to the AARP’s own estimates, however, the value of inheritances held by boomers thus far has totaled only $2.l trillion.

The group, which represents retirees and seniors, found just 15% of boomers expected to receive an inheritance in the future.

Boomers who had received inheritances by 2004 received a median of only $49,000, adjusted to 2005 dollars.

“Many of us dream of an inheritance in the same way we think about winning the lottery,” said John Gist, associate director of AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “The harsh reality is that for all but the lucky few, an inheritance is a pipedream.”

Without a substantial inheritance, boomers must look to Social Security, savings and pensions as the key to peace of mind in retirement, Gist added.


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