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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

Northern Trust Survey: Wealthy Black Americans More Charitable Than Non-Blacks

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Affluent Black Americans are more likely to give to charitable causes and feel responsible for providing financial support to adult family members than affluent non-Blacks, according to a Northern Trust survey released Wednesday.

The survey, “Wealth in Black America,” also found that four out of 10 affluent Black Americans do not have a will, and more than half have not worked with a financial advisor to establish an estate plan or wealth transfer plan during the past five years.

“Over the past few years the number of affluent Blacks has increased, and we can expect this group to continue having a major positive influence on their families and communities,” said Marguerite Griffin, national director of Philanthropic Services at Northern Trust. "At the same time, like many Americans, too many affluent blacks have not executed wills or other estate planning documents. This is a critical issue because these legal, tax saving instruments are essential tools used to protect one's legacy and transfer resources to one’s family."

Northern Trust’s nationwide survey, the second since 2008, seeks to provide insights into the financial attitudes and preferences of wealthy Black Americans with household incomes of at least $250,000 or a minimum of $1 million in investable assets. The new study covered 361 affluent Blacks and 256 affluent non-Blacks to compare their attitudes and behaviors on key measures.

The survey found affluent Black Americans as a group are very charitable. Fifty-two percent of Black respondents give to educational institutions, compared with 39% for non-Blacks, while 47% of Blacks give to human-services organizations vs. 38% for non-Blacks. Blacks were found to be less likely to donate to environmental or animal organizations than non-Blacks.

Generational differences exist as well, the study found. Affluent Black Americans 55 and older are more likely to donate to religious and human-services organizations (57% and 55%), while younger affluent Blacks tend to donate to educational institutions (37%).

Affluent Black Americans, more than non-Blacks, feel responsible for family members and expect to provide them with consistent financial support over the next 10 years, according to the survey. Fifty percent of affluent Blacks said they provided financial support to adult children; 32% to siblings; 21% to nieces or nephews; and 18% to cousins. In particular, financial support of adult children has risen dramatically in the financial crisis, up from 24% in 2008.

The Northern Trust study found that 58% of wealthy Black Americans have not worked with a financial advisor in the past five years to establish either an estate or wealth transfer plan. Fifty-four percent have not set up a personal trust. However, the study found that wealthy Black Americans are interested in learning more about estate planning, and 42% have already worked with a financial advisor in the past five years to establish an estate plan or wealth transfer plan.

Black respondents’ possession of a will was 57% in 2010 vs. 52% in 2008, and their plan to have a will was 38% compared with 29% two years ago. A family member continues to be the leading appointee as estate executor in 2010 (53%) as in 2008 (52%). In both years, affluent Blacks established a living trust as the No. 1 personal trust they arranged. Marital trusts have declined, to 23% from 30% in 2008, as have charitable trusts, to 25% from 32%.

Rapidly rising health-care costs continue to be the leading financial concern during retirement for affluent Black Americans, although that concern has significantly declined from 2008. Fifty-one percent listed escalating health care costs as a concern, followed by large increases in taxes (47%), health of self or spouse (47%), possibility of stock-market declines (41%), inflation eating into savings (40%), financial uncertainty of Social Security and Medicare (39%) and the possibility of outliving savings (37%). In 2008, rising health-care costs and financial uncertainty of Social Security and Medicare topped the list of concerns with 64% of respondents citing both.

Northern Trust’s survey was conducted online in the U.S. by Nia Pulse, the research unit of Nia Enterprises LLC, between June 14 and July 9.Northern Trust Corporation /quotes/comstock/15*!ntrs/quotes/nls/ntrs provides investment management, asset and fund administration, banking solutions and fiduciary services for corporations, institutions and affluent individuals worldwide. As of June 30, Northern Trust had $3.6 trillion in assets under custody, and $603 billion in assets under investment management.


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