Jean Chatzky on Boomers' Incredible Shrinking Inheritances

Jean ChatzkyIt's an awkward question, but one that baby boomers are increasingly finding themselves compelled to ask: What is the state of my parents' finances?

The data do not look encouraging. According to a survey done by Merrill Lynch (MER), in 2009 54% of investors with $250,000 or more of investable assets said that leaving an inheritance was a high priority; today, that figure is down to 41%.

Today show financial editor Jean Chatzky went on the air to explain that decline, citing the drain on families' finances caused by the Great Recession, as well as increasing lifespans. "People are living so much longer," Chatzky explains, "that they're worried they won't have enough money for themselves, let alone their kids."

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Indeed, the average 65-year-old man can expect to live to 78, while the average 65-year-old woman can expect to reach 85. "You better plan on living a lot longer than that," Chatzky cautions, "because that's just the average, and you could easily, easily outdo that."

"People are living so much longer that they're worried they won't have enough money for themselves, let alone their kids." As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, the inheritance pool for baby boomers has fallen by 13%, potentially jeopardizing the finances of those who had assumed that they would benefit from their parents' estates.

Watch the video below for Chatzky's advice on how to safely navigate these difficult issues, including concrete steps like reverse mortgages and long-term care insurance, as well as more general measures like intergenerational communication.

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