A generational split exists among highly wealthy individuals in their attitudes toward their money, with those born after the baby boom generation having more in common, in some ways, with those born before the baby boomers, according to a new study.
At the same time, baby boomers seem to be the least prepared to deal with economic issues, including elder care, when compared to the next two generations of younger people, according to U.S. Trust's 2012 Insights on Wealth and Work released Monday.
Generation X and Generation Y, those born between 1964 and the early 2000s, are like the generation before the boomers in valuing family and the continuity of family wealth, including leaving a financial inheritance to their children, the study said. The study surveyed 642 individuals with investable assets of at least $3 million. Of the respondents, 32% have $10 million or more in investable assets.
A majority (61%) of the respondents are not confident their children will be prepared to handle the financial inheritance left to them, with baby boomers being the least confident. Only 32% of boomers are confident in their children's abilities, while 52% of Generations X and Y and 54% of older respondents say they have confidence in their children.
Baby boomers (55%) are 20 percentage points behind those before (73%) and after (76%) them in wanting to leave money to their children. Of the boomers who don't see the importance of an inheritance, one third say they would rather leave money to charity than to their children.
Contrary to some reports, U.S. Trust found Generations X and Y to have more plans in place for handling future family finances than boomers. Of Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers, 40% have established a financial plan for their parents' elder care needs, compared to 20% of baby boomers.
Likewise, 54% of the younger generations have paid medical costs for parents or other relatives compared to 42% of baby boomers. Long-term care insurance has been purchased for their parents by 33% of the younger generations compared to only 6% of baby boomers.
"Our survey points to a shift in generational behavior and outlook, most likely shaped by personal experience and societal responses to economic realities," said Keith Banks, U.S. Trust president. "The next generations have not experienced the consistently strong economic growth or investment returns that baby boomers experienced during the longest bull market in history."
Almost all of the respondents have a will, health care proxy and power of attorney established. But almost 60% of the respondents say they do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place. Few include trusts in their financial planning, the study said, with only 51% having a revocable trusts and 22% having irrevocable trusts. U.S. Trust attributes this to a widespread lack of understanding and lack of professional guidance in trust matters.
Despite the possibility of estate tax increases and lower giving limits in 2013, 67% of respondents say they have not made, and do not plan to make, financial gifts to family members this year.