A new national study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research found that adults who receive an inheritance save approximately half. The remainder is spent, donated or lost.
For many retailers and others who stand to benefit from those who spend or mishandle monetary legacies, that statistic bodes well. But for others, including the author of the study, it comes as a disappointment.
Prior research has shown that over the next decade, elderly and aging Americans will pass down around $4 trillion to heirs. That means $2 trillion saved and a roughly equal amount spent.
Data for the study was collected from participants in a 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, whose money habits were measured 23 times over the next 30 years. Results indicated that of those who received an inheritance, more than one third saw a decline or “no change” in their wealth.
The median inheritance stood at around $12,000. Almost one in five baby boomers who inherited a significant sum ($100,00 or more) spent or lost all of it.
Researchers hope the study can help both the elderly and their heirs become better financial planners. Parents should consider establishing a trust to ensure money is handed down at an appropriate time and allocated in an appropriate manner.
Meanwhile, children and other heirs could find the motivation to save for baby’s college or their own retirement, rather than dishing out dollars to retailers. As one researcher put it, spending can be enjoyable in the short term, but saving can translate to a less stressful future.