Last week, in a social setting, I overheard a woman state that she and her husband are not concerned about their retirement. She continued by stating the reason is that each of them will inherit large sums from their parents. I found this to be an astounding comment/belief. I cannot fathom how some people are relying on possible inheritance to fund their own retirement.
I did not ask this woman if she had spoken to her parents about their estate plan and whether or not she is a beneficiary under their plan. I would hope she was not assuming she was a beneficiary under her parents’ estate plan because, under Arizona law, parents are not required to include their children as beneficiaries of their estate. In my practice, I see many clients leave their estate solely to children and grandchildren. However, this is not always the case. Parents can choose to leave their estate to others such as charities, friends and distant family members. From time to time, I have clients who feel that charities are more deserving of their estate than their children.
In addition to the issue of whether or not this woman is a beneficiary under her parents’ estate, the issue as to the extent of the inheritance should be looked at as well. The reality is that many individuals do not pass on an estate. With the rise in long term care costs, many individuals spend the majority of their wealth prior to death. Even those that do leave an estate, the median inheritance is around $64,000 according Boston College Center for Retirement Research. Now $64,000 is a significant number but it is not enough to fund an individual’s retirement.
Take my advice, do not rely upon the idea that you are entitled to an inheritance.
Contributed by Phoenix and Scottsdale MH Estate Planning Attorney Katherine A. O'Connell
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