For many baby boomers who have depression-era parents, relying on a forthcoming inheritance is paramount to their retirement plans. However, as both baby boomers and their parents continue to age, inheritance questions are becoming increasingly more complicated. Along with the increase in longevity and the soaring costs of health care, baby boomers often bring blended family issues into the mix and the question of whether they will inherit anything at all is becoming increasingly more common.
According to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, more than $20 trillion in wealth will transfer from parents to their heirs over the next 50 or so years. This is the largest single wealth transfer in American history. However, many people may not receive any of this expected inheritance as the increased cost of health care for the aging and increase in longevity continue to erode any potential inheritance.
According to statistics, more than half of first marriages end in divorce and divorced people remarry about 75% of the time. With all these changes in marriage partners comes the complicated picture of blended families. No longer are inheritances merely a question of children and parents, but increasingly come to involve ex-spouses, stepchildren, stepparents, step-grandchildren and more complicated family relationships. Without proper estate planning, inheritance questions can ruin family relationships and lead to disputes that last a lifetime.