Gen X stands to gain the most wealth from the $84 trillion wealth transfer

Oleg Breslavtsev

Generation X may be the biggest beneficiary from the $84 trillion Great Wealth Transfer in the next 10 years, according to a new study.

While millennials and members of Generation Z are expecting the biggest inheritances in the coming years as baby boomers pass down their fortunes, Gen Xers will likely get the largest windfalls in the near term. According to Wealth-X, the average age of individuals in North America set to inherit fortunes from parents worth $5 million or more is 46.1 years old.

The average age of children expected to receive the most substantial inheritances — from parents worth $30 million or more — is 47.6, according to the study. The study defines members of Gen X as being between the ages of 44 and 59 today, and millennials as between the ages of 28 and 43.

The findings cast a spotlight on the large wealth potential for Generation X, which has been largely overlooked in the discussion of young inheritors. Wealth management firms and private banks have largely been focused on potential clients in their 20s and 30s as they wait for trillions to be passed down by families. More than half of millennials are expecting an inheritance of at least $350,000, according to Alliant Credit Union.

The Wealth-X report suggests that wealth management firms, luxury companies and real estate firms targeting the next generation of wealthy clients should also start considering Generation X.

“Much is often made in the media of millennial and Generation Z heirs but, in fact, Generation X will be first in line to inherit from their wealthy parent(s),” according to the report.

The report said that for now, millennials and Gen Z “are more likely to receive sums as grandchildren, which will often be less substantial.”

Inheritances will be extremely concentrated at the top. In the next 10 years, 1.2 million individuals worth $5 million or more will pass down a total of more than $31 trillion in wealth, according to the report. Of that amount, nearly two-thirds, 64%, will be from the ultra-wealthy, defined as those worth $30 million or more. In other words, nearly $20 trillion will be passed down from 155,000 people in that upper echelon of wealth.

The super-wealthy, or those worth $100 million or more, will account for nearly half the $31 trillion total being handed down. Billionaires will pass down about $5 trillion, according to the report.

Inheritors will have different values and priorities from previous generations, which wealth managers, luxury firms and philanthropies need to adapt to. The next generation of investors are more tech influenced, more focused on the environment and social justice and more global, according to the report.

“New technologies, the clean-energy transition and ‘impact investing’ will be a focus of many heirs’ ambitions, which may not necessarily align with a family’s existing business structures or the legacy plans of those transferring their fortunes,” the report said.

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