Boomers in Line for $8T in Inheritance

Baby Boomers will inherit $8.4 trillion at 2009 levels, with a $64,000 median and $2.4 trillion already having been received.

That was a conclusion of a new study authored by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for the MetLife Mature Market Institute, according to a MetLife news release.

The figures, drawn from national survey data, say the wealthiest Boomers will be given an average of $1.5 million, while those at the other end of the spectrum will be left $27,000, an amount that represents a larger percentage of the latter group’s overall wealth, according to the study. Two-thirds of all Boomers stand to receive some inheritance over their lifetime.

Additionally, the study reports that the Boomer cohort has or will receive a substantial sum from their parents while the older generation is still alive, increasing the total transfer of assets from $8.4 trillion to $11.6 trillion.

According to the news release, other study findings include:

  • Most Boomers will receive their inheritances in late middle age, upon the death of the surviving parent. To date, the overwhelming majority of inheritances are passed from parents to children (63% of inheritances and 74% of dollars); grandparents are the second most common source. Few Boomers now have living grandparents, but a majority have at least one living parent.
  • Although only 17% of Boomers had received an inheritance by 2007, two-thirds will eventually receive one. The incidence of receipt increases with income, but 50% or more of households at all income levels will eventually receive an inheritance.
  • Though high-wealth households receive much larger inheritances in dollar terms, these amounts represent a smaller share of their wealth—22% for those in the top tenth compared to 64% for those in the second-to-bottom tenth.
  • Considering only past inheritances, the median amount Boomers received by 2007—adjusted for inflation—is about the same as that received by the preceding 1927–1945 birth cohort at the same ages.