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Elders, boomers and their inheritance
Survey: Baby boomers and their parents treasure values far above money.
July 29, 2005: 10:55 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The baby boomer generation and their parents may have not always seen eye-to-eye in the past.

But when it comes to the estimated $25 trillion transfer of wealth between the two groups, they both agree it's not just about the money.

The life insurance company Allianz recently surveyd baby boomers and their parents about their attitudes on everything from the importance of fulfilling last wishes to passing on real estate and assets.

"Many people wrongly assume that the most important issue among families is money and wealth transfer -- it's not," said Ken Dychtwald, a gerontologist, and designer of the survey. "What we found was the memories, the stories, the values were 10 times more important to people than the money."

While Boston College's Center on Wealth and Philanthropy estimates baby boomers and their parents will transfer wealth and other assets worth at least $41 trillion dollars to family members and charities over the next 47 years, that was not the most important issue to those individuals polled in the study.

Some 77 percent of those polled in the study -- baby boomers, who ranged in age from 40 to 59, and elders, age 65 and older -- said the most important inheritance they could receive or pass on would be values and lessons about life.

The poll, which surveyed 1,282 baby boomers and 1,345 elders via online and telephone, revealed, however, that elders were seven times more likely than baby boomers to feel they owed their children an inheritance.

Of those elders who planned on passing on an inheritance, those with a higher net worth were more receptive to the idea of giving more money to those children who either provided care for a parent or were a limited source of stress or conflict.

But talking about issues related to inheritance is still often ignored, the study revealed, which can lead to disputes, especially when it comes to items with a high emotional value.

While both boomers and elders said they felt confident talking about these subjects, less than one-third of either group had comprehensive discussions about all the issues related to inheritance.

"Our hope is that people use this as a wakeup call or as the basis for having these discussions," said Mark Zesbaugh, the president and chief executive officer of Allianz Life Insurance Company.

The margin of error on the survey was plus or minus three percent.


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