Americans may inherit more money than they think

Americans may inherit more money than they think

According to Fed research, “U.S. household net worth plunged $ 16 trillion, or 24 percent, from third quarter 2007 to first quarter 2009.”

Other surveys have yielded similarly gloomy predictions about the likelihood of receiving an inheritance. The 2012 Allianz Life American Legacies Pulse Study conducted last year found that 15 percent of baby boomers didn’t anticipate inheriting anything, and nearly a quarter — 23 percent — expected their inheritance would be less than $ 50,000.

That might not sound like a lot of money, said Sante, but it can augment a neglected nest egg or pay down debt. Those were the two most popular actions people said they would take if they received an inheritance.

Just 5 percent thought they would inherit more than half a million dollars. found that despite their children’s misgivings, more than six in 10 older Americans (those 60 and older) replied that they expect to leave behind an inheritance. Of those, 22 percent thought they’d be able to bequeath between $ 100,000 and $ 500,000.

Their assessment might be overly optimistic, due to a combination of longer life spans, rising healthcare costs and low interest rates that hurt people with fixed-income investments. These factors are chipping away at older Americans’ ability to pass along wealth to the next generation, especially among the less-affluent and those who need long-term care at the end of their lives.

“When you get below the higher net worth people, if someone is in that long-term care situation, that can deplete someone’s assets very quickly,” Gabrielsen said. “In that case, I’d say it’s more about whatever’s left over.

—By Martha C. White, NBC News.

Personal Finance


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