As If You Need More Reasons To Hate Baby Boomers

By J. DeVoy

A recent report published by U.S. Trust, Bank of America’s private wealth management wing, reveals the Baby Boomers’ disturbing and ahistorical views about leaving behind an inheritance for their survivors.  From the report’s key findings section:

only about half (55 percent) of Baby Boomers think it is important to leave a financial inheritance to their children. Among those who don’t think it is important, one in three (31 percent) said they would rather leave money to charity than to their children.

In comparison, 73 percent of people 67+ said it is important to leave behind a financial inheritance for their heirs, and 76 percent of people aged 18 to 46 believed the same.

Baby boomers trailed individuals aged 67+ and 18-46 in explaining their motivation for leaving an inheritance as “to protect family wealth,” “to have influence on children after I am gone,” “family tradition,” “to express how I feel about children/heirs,” and “it is a moral obligation.”  However, Boomers led the pack in explaining their motivation for leaving an inheritance as “a tax strategy.”

Rather than pass wealth down through the generations to help their children and grandchildren, almost a full third of Boomers indicated a preference to give everything away to charity.  While 14% of people age 18-46 and 16% of those aged over 67 would not leave behind an inheritance on this basis, a full 31% of Boomers said they would.  Yes, you read that correctly: Boomers would rather basically give their money to “Charity” – an undefined mass of hippies, effete slackers with useless advanced degrees, and inefficient intellectual property bullies – than their own flesh and blood.

In the past, extended and immediate families were more of an economic unit than one of emotions.  Parents, children, siblings, cousins and uncles would work together to form a family business, or complementary businesses.  Marriages were sealed with dowries and arranged in order to amass and protect fortunes and land.  Now they’re basically a roulette table where the wealthier party places half of his or her assets on red.  This decoupling of money and feelings has now reached inheritance, with Boomers leading the way in screwing over their progeny.

Ironically, the Boomers were born into near-tranquility and rode a wave of U.S. supremacy ignited by the destruction of Europe in WWII and sustained by the market distortions and trade embargoes of the Cold War.  When that ended, they implemented policies such as NAFTA and gave nations such as China most-favored-nation status in trading, ensuring that a) goods were cheap to trade, and b) manufactured elsewhere.

While costs soared in the U.S. for a variety of reasons, and opportunities dwindled in the U.S. for another variety of reasons, young people patiently hung on for their parents to die so they would finally have some shot of accumulating wealth.  Many held out hope for a hot cash transfer to finally kick off adulthood and a foothold on financial prosperity.  It appears, however, that the boomers have screwed that up for young people too.

N.B. – The 642 respondents in the U.S. Trust research all had at least $3 million in investable assets, but a) that’s about 2 million people in America, so the sample size and population it drew from is statistically significant; and b) who cares about your attitudes toward inheritance if you don’t have anything to leave behind.

23 Responses to As If You Need More Reasons To Hate Baby Boomers

  1. Mike says:

    With that attitude, I doubt a lot of them will have money to leave for charity, because it will have to be used to pay for the nursing homes they will inevitably be parked. or for ultra-expensive in-home care, in until they kick it.

    • J DeVoy says:

      Ah yes, I’ll-put-you-in-a-home detente.

      Even sneakier, if you know you’re not getting anything, you can convince them to slow-bleed their assets to close to zero at death by getting them to do things like buy annuities, reverse-mortgage their house(s), etc.

  2. blueollie says:

    Hmmm, complaining because gramps won’t hurry up and die and give you his money….Pot meet Kettle. :-)

    • J DeVoy says:

      Gramps would be in the 67+ category. Baby Boomers are mom and dad for most people in their 20’s and many in their 30’s.

  3. John says:

    As an early Boomer (66) I guess I share sympathy with the “Gramps” cohort.

  4. Luis says:

    mmmmm… I work for my money, why should not I dispose of it as I see fit?

    As a parent I have done everything in my power to provide my kids with education and any other weapon available to face the world.

    Why are my kids entitled to the wealth I have created? Have I not fulfilled my obligation as a parent and now is their turn to do something with what has been given to them?

    This sense of “entitlement” is wrong and leads to ungrateful offspring giving papa and mama a last shove into the grave

    • J DeVoy says:

      If you’re not leaving behind assets for your kid, I don’t know how you can claim you’ve done “everything in your power” to provide them “any other weapon” to succeed in the world.

      What else are you going to do with your wealth? When you’re old, practically dead and look like shit, what’s to enjoy about money or life? This is what’s so confusing about the whole idea of enjoying retirement and using it as a chance to be active and break a hip.

      I hardly think it’s entitlement to be shocked that the Baby Boomers stand alone in the stream of history and western civilization by saying “fuck you, I got mine” to their children and heirs while simultaneously making it very difficult for those who follow them to obtain the same level of wealth or material comfort. So maybe the spite arises from that. I’ve been saving two refrigerator boxes for my parents when they’re ready to go.

      • John says:

        Assets can be distributed prior to death. Paying for our son’s education — totaling well over half a million dollars — was no small gift. Letting him graduate debt-free wasn’t either, even if it ate seriously into potential income for his parents’ retirement.

      • luis says:

        Really?

        As John said, letting them out in life debt free and with Premium education is no small thing

        As a lawyer I´ve seen terrible disputes; kids “taking” over parents assets because they were managing them in a way they did not see fit (and by assets I mean an 11 hotel company). Now the kids are rich and the parents are not… nice uh?

        If I worked for what I have, I should be able to blow it up, give it away or spend it all before I die

        and my kids should not have any problema with it, I provided for them, gave them everything they need to make it in life

        If i decide to leave them something, its a gift! and you dont look a gifted horse in the teeth, they should just say thanks

        if i decide to spend it all, well it is my prerrogative and my kids should say: nice that the old man is enjoying retirement

        I´m trying to educate my kids to not depend on anyone but themselves.

        I, if it´s posible, will leave my assets to my kids, not give them away… but because I WANT TO, not because I HAVE TO or because they deserve them

        • Jeremy says:

          The problem is most baby boomers actually never had to work very hard for what they achieved. Most of it was handed to them along with hefty inheritances and plenty of jobs to go around….shit people could have 2 or 3 if they wished. Now after having all of that they decide. Why should my kids get the same benefits I had? We already ruined their futures, lets make it a bit worse.

          Give me a break on paying for their education. That is what a parent is supposed to do. Don’t act like it’s an act of kindness. If you have the money to pay for your kids college and you are making them take out a loan then you are a terrible parent who is not looking out for their kid but rather for themselves.

          I am a gen X’er and I would spend every last cent I have to make sure my kid gets a good education even if it means reducing my retirement money. I wouldn’t hold i over their head though as if you did them some sort of great favor. What you did was be a parent, then you devalued what you did by mentioning that you did they a great favor. Quit doing your kids “favors” and be a real parent.

  5. Boomer of Blue Collar Origin says:

    I grew up in a very poor family, had to borrow a lot to get through college, and have never gotten any help from any of the “rich.” I can’t really sympathize with your plight, Mr. DeVoy. To what level of “wealth or material comfort” do you consider yourself entitled?

    • J DeVoy says:

      Your parents should pass whatever they have onto you so you can do the same to your children and build generational wealth. Inter-generational wealth transfers are less about where you’re from and more about where you’re going.

      • luis says:

        inter generational weath is AWESOME and its a great thing to do if YOU WANT… my objection with what you say is that you convey it is an obligation leaving out my free will over my things and what to do with them

        • J DeVoy says:

          If you have kids, it’s part of your obligation to them. Once you’ve gone all-in and had kids you can’t pick and choose your obligations to them like food pieces at a cafeteria simply because your free will allows you to do so.

  6. Susan L. says:

    What a great subject. Since many parents leave the raising of their children up to institutions, it’s easy to see why children balk at caring for the parents when they’re old and enfeebled. All of those institutions cost money, so there is more often less left over. But why would we want to leave anything left over to the kids who dumped us, even if they learned their behavior from us? Perhaps if we started taking care of our own kids and our old people–in the way we would like to be cared for–there would be more money to pass down.

    Ah, but familiarity breeds contempt! After watching fortunes being blown on disposable consumer goods, why WOULD we want to leave what we worked so hard to safe only to have it frittered away by irresponsible spenders? But if we can’t value each other, how on earth are we supposed to value money?

    Though it’s often hard to see in ourselves, who can’t agree that our government is a disaster? The thing is, our government merely mirrors our society, which generally reflects our families. The mess we are in spiritually manifests itself financially. The money is the symptom, not the problem.

    • Susan, your comment touches on something I wrote elsewhere in regard to J. DeVoy’s post before reading your comment; you bring up a different aspect, but I’ll share what I wrote:

      I hardly think it’s entitlement to be shocked that the Baby Boomers stand alone in the stream of history and western civilization by saying “fuck you, I got mine” to their children and heirs while simultaneously making it very difficult for those who follow them to obtain the same level of wealth or material comfort.

      How did they make it very difficult?

      By racking up massive public debt for social programs that they wanted for themselves, including their medical care and retirement and even their outsourcing of their childcare responsibilities to daycares, and passing these huge debts on to their children to pay.

      To add injury to injury, they are ahistorically disinterested in passing on their wealth to their children.

      I’ll add this video about reactive attachment disorder as a relevant footnote; while it is about extreme cases, there are ripple effects of this baby-boomer outsourcing of parenting to institutions emanating negatively through hundreds of millions of lives.

  7. Eve Smith says:

    “…Baby Boomers’ disturbing and ahistorical views about leaving behind an inheritance for their survivors”

    Disturbing? To you, obviously. Ahistorical? Have you read Adam Smith or Thomas Jefferson on this topic?

  8. Boom goes the selfish olds says:

    Old people are mostly air

  9. Disinheritance is a longstanding, much-loved tradition. I was basically stiffed in my father’s will because I got tired of being harassed daily with early morning phone calls, in which he would loudly berate me for a career path I allegedly chose specifically to humiliate him and his family. Graphic arts? Seriously? I told him never to contact me again, and left the country.

    He was unemployable in his own profession because he couldn’t get along with customers, so he became a slumlord and small-time stock market dabbler. He became moderately well-off (6 – 7 figures) for a time, then the tax man caught up with him about the same time the real estate and stock markets went south. He finally died “peacefully” two days after his 83rd birthday, which is the first and only time that word accurately represented his true state.

    Still, there was plenty left for my sisters, who put off their own lives and careers for 30 years to keep his books and muck out his rentals. All they have to do to claim their legacy is figure out where he stashed the bulk of his money. Rotsa ruck with that, he was paranoid about anyone getting their hands on it.

    He was also creepy-jealous of my sisters’ boyfriends and sent deprogrammers and PIs after me because he strongly disapproved of my partner. He immunized all of us against breeding. Of the three of us, only one has a child, and that one was an accident who is doing just fine supporting himself as a young adult.

    So, I’ve got nobody on my side of the family who needs or deserves an unearned legacy when I die. 80% of mine (or what’s left of it when I die) goes to the in-laws, the remaining 20% will go to charity.

  10. John mudd says:

    Right. Boomers are supporting their worthless Gen X and Y children through their infinite college years and subsequent remainder of lifetime unemployment while at the same time providing care and financial support to their miserable and hateful Greatest Generation parents. Now, they are additionally obligated to leave a small fortune after they die so their good for nothing children have an endless supply of Cheetos and BigGulps while they surf away at the basement computer.

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