(LA Times) Many baby boomers don't plan to leave their children an inheritance

Carol Willison has made lots of financial sacrifices for her two children over the years, including paying most of her older daughter’s medical school tuition. But Willison’s generosity has reached its limits.

Not only doesn’t the 60-year-old Seattle woman plan to leave her daughters an inheritance when she dies, she’s trying to spend every last dime on herself before she goes.

“My goal is when they carry me away in that box that my bank account is going to say zero,” Willison said. “I’m going to spoil myself now.”

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Middle Age, Personal Finance, Psychology

22 comments on “(LA Times) Many baby boomers don't plan to leave their children an inheritance

  1. rugbyplayingpriest says:

    Ah the selfish generation wish to indulge themselves some more. Not enough that they have wrecked the economy, bankrupt their grandchildren and ensured their own offspring cannot get on the housing ladder. Not enough the damage caused to morality, faith and decency on their watch. So in the end rather predictable I would say…

  2. robroy says:

    How did the greatest generation beget the worst generation?

  3. robroy says:

    As Dave Ramsey often quotes, “A good man leave’s an inheritance to his children’s children.” (Proverbs 13:22). He also quotes Warren Buffet, “wealthy parents should leave their children with enough money to do anything they want but not so much that they are doomed to do nothing at all.”

  4. Ian+ says:

    I agree with all of the above. How did my generation turn out so self-centred?

  5. Sarah says:

    Hmmmm. As a non-baby boomer — Gen-X — I’m not certain that I agree with some of the comments above. Sure, money’s nice. But where is it written that my parents owe me their money?

    Many parents don’t trust their children to use money wisely. So why should they give their hard-earned money to their children to use after their death?

    I *do* agree that the Boomers have demolished — in a painstaking and careful manner — practically every single institution that makes up life in the US. And for that, I blame them. Those of us in succeeding generations will have to try to clean up the mess, and based on precious little foundation too. But that’s an institutional thing, not a money thing.

  6. David Keller says:

    Wait a doggone minute. I have voted against all these excesses most of my adult life. The reason we are in such financial distress is all the largess of the Federal Government; and I am paying for it. The only people in America who are thriving right now are the super rich and those “poor” on the government dole. People who make between $50 and $250K are footing the bill for both ends economic scale. When you look at all the taxes I pay, it ends up being almost 50% of my income. If I could stash some of that away, I’d be able to leave more to my children, instead of someone else’s children getting it now. And contrary to what you has been force fed by the mass media, the vast majority of people on “Wall Street” give big money to the Democrats, not the Republicans. You ought to be asking yourself why that is. The reason is because the middle class is supporting the rich on Wall Street as well as the “poor”.

  7. C. Wingate says:

    Keller, if you are paying out 50% of your income to taxes, then you are quite rich. I make way over the median American income, maybe twice it, and my total deductions of all sorts– taxes, health insurance, etc.– don’t amount to a third of my paycheck.

    If the feds are responsible for the economic pain of the middle class, it isn’t through taxation. It because they’ve allowed American companies to abandon employment in the USA in favor of cheap, oppressed overseas labor. Taking the federal budget down to zero won’t do a thing to fix that.

  8. David Keller says:

    #7–My federal load is about 15% plus 7% state. But what about sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, highway taxes, gas taxes, parking taxes, prepared food taxes, etc, etc, etc… You have been fooled by your politicians about how much you really pay. What isn’t taken out of your pay check is the big stuff. On your second point, I agree. Taxes on labor alone in the US (SSI, Medicare etc.) are more that the total taxes on Chinese produced products. However, if we were to cut the taxes on Americam made products, which is the ONLY way to get manufacturing back in the US, I am sure any decent liberal would be completely offended. It appears to me the only people you can pick on in America today are white men, Christians and successful business people. And I am personally sick and tired of the libs suggesting any one who is even slightly successful had it handed to them. The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

  9. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    Sales tax around here is just under 10% — poor or stinkin’ rich … it doesn’t matter. Property taxes around here approach 2% of total value every year, and in many places are pushing 5%. In a small New England town (pop 13,000) my sister and very aged mother must cough up over $600 per month to live in the 1842 house (on a small lot) we have allegedly owned free and clear for well over forty years. Do not think that renters avoid that one; it is passed through.

    The property tax alone is over 20% of their combined income from Social Security, my late father’s Navy pension, and my sister’s pension for almost 30 years working as a groundwater geologist for a northeastern state. When my mother dies, which will be sooner, not later, it is unlikely my sister will be able to remain in the house our family bought right after the end of WW2.

    There is something desperately wrong here. The two of them struggle under taxes quite close to 40% of their combined (modest) income. And for what? A town that offers courses in ‘Lesbian self-expression in art and poetry’? A state that squanders millions on ‘carbon offset credits’? A federal government spending millions every year to subsidize “urban agriculture” and the Alabama Peanut Queen festival? Or spending over $100,000 to pave the parking lot at a $4 million swimming pool in our Kansas town of 5,000 people?

    The American Dream is being devoured by our self-appointed political elite and their bureaucratic minions at all levels. The problem is personal empire-building, dreadfully wasteful spending, graft, political correctness, and cronyism at all levels of government … especially in states with a tradition of Democrat governance.

  10. jkc1945 says:

    #5, Sarah, I would suggest for your consideration, the possibility that your parents do not own you anything for your sake. They own it to you for their sake! It is a part of the Christian understanding of good stewardship of the resources given to us by God Himself, that ought to underpin the desire to follow the proverb quoted by #3 (Robroy) avove. It is good for US, for OUR lives, to continually have the following generations in mind as we steward the resources that we have been lent by God, for our use for one lifetime. Just my opinion, but there is some scripture and tradition to back it up, I think.

  11. Clueless says:

    It has ALWAYS been expected that parents will give their children the ability to make a life for themselves. In biblical times it was expected that carpenters taught their children their trade, while those whose “work” involved politics ensured that their children were educated sufficiently that they could support themselves with similar work. It was always considered shameful to leave children debts. Now we leave children debts yet feel no shame about spending the last of our money on ourselves.

    I feel it is important that my kids graduate college without debt, and this is taking place. Since my generation has already burdened them with debts (which will be paid in taxes/inflation) I also feel it is important that they be able to own their home or business free and clear. Right now they are not sufficiently mature enough to handle significant assets, however assuming they can both finish school, take a job, work the job for several years and STAY OUT OF DEBT, my plan is to settle assets on them prior to my death as they demonstrate the ability to use them wisely.

    I do not intend to “leave an inheritance” because it will be stolen by the government. Nor do I intend to retire. I plan to work until they throw me out. If I get sick, I plan to die as inexpensively as I can mange it. My durable power of attorney will assist me in those goals.

  12. David Keller says:

    #10–Of course thanks to the policies of the federal government, many boomers have adult children with expensive college degrees who can’t get jobs or who are under employed. We are having to help then now rather than when we die. It is a vicious cycle.
    #11–Good plan. I agree with what you say.

  13. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    “How did the greatest generation beget the worst generation?”

    I tend to think it’s because WWII left parents or prospective parents too exhausted and shell-shocked for effective discipline; but, that’s just me.

  14. Sarah says:

    Hear hear to David Keller’s #8 — preach it brother!

    RE: “It has ALWAYS been expected that parents will give their children the ability to make a life for themselves.”

    Sure — but that’s a *heritage* not a monetary inheritance. My parents have done a huge amount for me. They educated me, poured thousands of hours into me [not to mention dollars], and have helped me out in my adulthood as well. In a lot of ways I wasn’t coddled — nobody bought me a house or a fancy car. But my parents have helped me out when I needed it and they gave me a great heritage in a love of learning and a willingness to work hard, and maybe a few other character traits. They made plenty of mistakes too [and as I’ve shared with them, I intend to do a Jerry Springer show at some point just in order to share those on national television].

    Would I love to win the lottery? Sure. Would I love to find a trunk of gold bars in a basement? Absolutely. Would I appreciate some sort of vast inheritance from my parents? No doubt.

    But they just don’t owe me anything else.

  15. Albany+ says:

    There’s a lot of focus on the Boomers. Each generation since is actually worse. It’s possible we have finally hit bottom, but I need more evidence.

  16. David Keller says:

    I hesitate to say this, and have written and deleted it several times; but I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon, so I’m going to. One of the biggest differences between the “greatest generation” and the boomers is America gave our dads a really nice war to fight and you gave us a c–ppy one. And then after we spilled blood for them, the best and the brightest of the “greatest generation” surrendered.

  17. rugbyplayingpriest says:

    Sarah I quite agree that children have no right to their parents but there is a hitch. The boomers have stolen from them changing everything. Take the couple I know who purchased a five bedroom house for 8k in the sixties and just sold it for 625k.

    They just made a MASSIVE pile for free by saddling the generation below with huge debt. The artificial hiking of property costs is just one way the boomers wrecked the economy and indulged themselves.

    To the person who said each generation subsequently has been worse…time will tell as presently it is the boomers who hold the seats of power. But there is evidence, certainly in the church, that the reverse is true and the future will see a swing to orthodoxy

  18. drummie says:

    If the feds are responsible for the economic pain of the middle class, it isn’t through taxation. It because they’ve allowed American companies to abandon employment in the USA in favor of cheap, oppressed overseas labor. Taking the federal budget down to zero won’t do a thing to fix that. . . . . So is the government supposed to step in and TELL a business that they can not go overseas or to any state they want? Obama’s administration is trying that right now with the NLRB going after Boeing for building a plant in a right to work state, South Carolina. So is Boeing supposed to go back to Washington and be forced to pay the unions to stay in business? Give me a break. The government has no business or right to tell a company where they can locate because of financial considerations. If you want to see a large part of the problem, look at Jimmy Hoffa. What does he do to deserve the big salary that he is given? Why should anyone in the US have to pay him off to get oir keep a job. That is why a lot of our jobs have gone overseas, union leaders who have no idea what a job is have priced the American worker out of their jobs. They did a great deal of good originally, but what have they done for the American worker lately but price him out of a job and the union leaders get rich doing it?

  19. Mitchell says:

    #18 that’s an interesting theory. But, how do you explain the fact that most of the US manufacturing jobs that have been exported were in largely non-unionized industries, like textiles and electronics; while most of the US manufacturing jobs that have not been exported are in largely unionized industries, like automobiles and steel.

  20. Don C says:

    Mitchell, the jobs in the auto industry may not have been exported by the Big Three but they lost vast market share to Japanese and European manufacturers. While I don’t the know the percentage of the top of my head, many of the foreign owned auto makers now produce their cars in non-union factories in the South.

    That said, I no longer drink the unbridled free trade kool-aid that was passed around in undergrad.

  21. Albany+ says:


    The answer to your two questions could be:

    1. Rush to the bottom

    2. Unions actually provide some protection

  22. Don C says:

    Albany+, I’d argue that the UAW (and management that agreed to the contracts) hurt the big three and was at least partially responsible for the loss of jobs to foreign auto makers.