Average Inheritance Amounts By Country: Have You Had The Talk With Your Parents Yet?

Average Inheritance Amounts By Country ChartIf there’s one topic more uncomfortable than discussing how much money you make or where babies come from, it’s the topic of inheritance. Talking about inheritance just feels wrong due to the greed it connotes and the finality of it all. But 100% of us will die, and 100% of us should be thinking about how we should give our assets away in an equitable manner. The best withdrawal rate in retirement doesn’t touch principle so we can ensure there’s money left over for others.

Dave’s post on taking care of his 97 year old grandmother got me thinking about a curious outcome that may occur. No matter how much love and time Dave gives his grandmother, her irrevocable trust will likely stay the same. Most of her assets will likely go to her son, Dave’s father who has financial issues of his own, and then her grandchildren. I’m sure grandmother appreciates all of Dave’s efforts. But at the age of 97, there’s no changing the will/trust to reward Dave for all his hard work during her most difficult years.

I’ve never had the inheritance talk with my parents because to discuss such things feels like extremely poor taste. Besides, they should have decades of healthy living ahead of them.

Thinking about inheritance is similar to how folks under 40 think about Social Security. There might be something in the end, but nobody counts on it. The only people who seem to talk about inheritance are super wealthy families with family businesses succession plans or people who are financially struggling and have no shame to ask their parents for more.


I’ve always gone with the assumption since college I would receive nothing from my parents because they already provided me with so much. My father taught me to play sports and invest in the stock market. My mother tutored me after school and introduced me to a healthier lifestyle. They even paid for my entire college tuition.

When I learned about how much private school tuition cost ($25,000 a year in 1995) for my sister, I felt sick to my stomach. My parents couldn’t possibly make much more than $100,000 a year combined as government employees. I decided to attend The College of William & Mary instead, a public school that only cost about $3,000 a year in tuition. Many people mistake William & Mary for a private school due to its name and small size. The College was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1693 and is the second oldest university in the nation with the oldest academic building in use (Wren Building).

I knew we were squarely in the middle class given we drove a seven year old 1987 Toyota Camry and lived in a modest townhouse. I made it a goal to pay my parents back by getting a job and having them not worry about me after graduation. All they want is for me to have opportunities to pursue my interests and be happy.

When I finally saved up enough money to pay them back, I asked if I could reimburse them and they politely declined. I remember my father saying he saved equal buckets of money for my sister and my college education and to not worry about things. Only as a reflective personal finance writer do I fully appreciate how financially savvy they were to be able to support a family of four on their middle class salaries.


I used to always play this car fantasy game with my buddies growing up. We loved cars and I’d ask them, “Let’s say a genie gave you $80,000 to spend on a car, which would you buy?” Most of my friends would choose the fanciest car possible for the money allotted – Porsche, Supra, NSX etc. After they’d get done sharing their desires, I’d tell them I would buy a $12,000 Honda Civic and pocket the difference! Some would change their mind for a more economical car, but most would just laugh.

I went the economical route in college because I felt bad for having my parents spend so much. I couldn’t afford paying for private school on my own working $4-$5 an hour jobs at McDonald’s. Going the private school route would also add a lot more pressure to find a decent job after graduation. Besides, William & Mary was a great school and I was fortunate to get in. But what I realize now as a personal finance writer is that if you don’t use it, you lose it.

From my parents point of view the reallocation of education funds to my sister makes a ton of sense. In the back of their minds I’m sure they were breathing a sigh of relief I decided to attend a public school instead of a private school. They see child raising as a total cost whereas it’s difficult for kids to see the big picture at the time. I have spoken to many teenagers who don’t seem to care at all about the cost of education because their parents will pay or they’ll get a loan. All they focus on is fit and what they want. It’s no wonder why we have such a massive student loan crisis.

One day at the age of 32, I couldn’t help but ask my father what happened to the remaining money earmarked for my college education since I went the $100,000 cheaper route over four years and paid for my MBA on my own. He said the remaining money went to pay for my sister’s private graduate school education. Very interesting! I was making a comfortable living at the time and didn’t really think about the issue after that day. I was happy that my sister was able to attend the private schools of her choice.


After my three-week company offsite in Oahu, I went over to visit my parents for the final week. During this time I trimmed some trees, bought and planted a pomelo tree and himmayudin mango tree in their yard (I love plants thanks to my grandfather who was a farmer), and spent roughly $1,350 to buy them two new LED TVs, a Chromebook, and a DVD player. The worst was not the cost of the electronic items but the time and energy spent going to Best Buy, carrying out the heavy CRT TVs, and setting up the equipment. The reason why I got them a 50″ LED TV and not larger was because that was the largest I could comfortably carry with my wingspan! Besides, the price point was good compared to a 55″ or 60″ beast.

My parents were really happy I was able to upgrade all their electronic equipment and I was happy to have helped. I even hooked them up with Netflix and Pandora. After watching a bad movie on Netflix, I had a nice long conversation with my father about the main property. Without getting into specifics, the property was gifted to multiple individuals by my grandparents. I asked him whether I should consider buying out the other owners in order to generate some rental income in the second house on the property. My sister is one of the owners who lives on the East Coast and doesn’t ever plan to move back to Hawaii.

Dad said I could try and that I’d get his share of ownership, but that still left my sister’s share to purchase. This was the first time my father ever mentioned anything about inheritance. We kinda joked about things to keep the topic light, but in that moment I realized that no matter how much time I spend with my parents or help them with things around the house their will/trust would likely be split evenly between my sister and I.

I fully expect to take care of my parents when they are older. They don’t need to worry about any expenses beyond what their insurance will cover, including the thousands of dollars a month in long-term care if needed. I haven’t spoken to my sister about caring for our parents yet, but I have my doubts she’ll be taking care of them because she has her own family to take care of on the East Coast.


Because love is unconditional, it doesn’t matter who is the more caring sibling. As a parent, I have to imagine one of the key tenets is to never show favoritism for one child over another. The inheritance is the most crystal way to demonstrate equal treatment, therefore no sibling should ever expect to get more than another sibling.

Besides, it costs money and takes time to change a will/trust. There’s also the fear that the paperwork could get lost or misinterpreted in the process as I’ve seen happen before. I’ve got no intention of changing the contents of my will unless I absolutely have to.

Every time I see my father I joke with him whether he’s doing a good job spending his entire pension money every month and whether he needs any help. He is a super saver who needs a lot encouragement since he still likes to save for retirement in retirement.

But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe my father is building a massive financial nut to leave to his children. So instead of encouraging him to spend all his money and live it up, I should be encouraging him to save even more. Who am I to try and change someone’s spending habits if they are happy?

I never want to have the inheritance talk with my parents unless they initiate the conversation. I hate thinking about money and family because so often money tears relationships apart. The best way I can make my parents happy is to regularly keep in touch, be happy with my own life, and not let them worry about me. Connecting is one of the main reasons why I’ve been writing so methodically online for the past four and a half years. If they’re ever wondering what I’m up to, they can always stop by for a virtual visit.

To Recap

1) Do things for your parents because you love them, not because you think your actions will do anything to change their will.

2) Your good deeds will likely go unrewarded when it’s time because parents want to treat their children equally. It’s too cumbersome and expensive to change a trust/will.

3) Your motivation to be a loving son or daughter will naturally dip the day you realize your siblings will get exactly the same, even if you never thought about doing anything for a larger inheritance in the first place. It’s like working hard for an A all year until your teacher says everybody will get a B.

4) Don’t ever expect anything more from your parents once you’re an adult. Instead, change your mindset to paying them back. If you are expecting an inheritance to take care of your financial needs, you are planning to fail. A TD America study in 2012 said that 40% of of those ages 14-22 expect to receive an inheritance while only 16% of parents expected to leave one!

5) Parents should consider overweighting their assets towards children who care for them the most, if not for selfish reasons. Nobody wants to spend their years alone. It’s perfectly rational to provide an incentive system for children, even if no incentive system is needed.

6) If you’re going to marry, you might as well marry an Australian or Singaporean! They’ve got fantastic government retirement systems that ensure long term wealth.


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Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. Mark Ross says

    Inheritance is something I don’t want to discuss with my parents. I just think that it’s kind of awkward to talk about it because it’s their hard work that got them those not mine, so why should I take some of them? Well, I just thought that it’s not right. The fact that I’m their son isn’t enough to take what they have accomplished in their life.
    Anyways, that’s just my opinion though. :)

  2. Mr B says

    You should live your life as if no inheritance is incoming. It is perfectly acceptable if parents decide to donate their assets. It’s no longer their responsibility to support your finances, IMO.

    That said, every family is different. Merry Christmas!

  3. says

    In my family we have finance / inheritance talks regularly as my various life milestones are reached – my college selection, my graduation, my grandparent’s retirement, my graduate school, marriage, my parent’s retirement, death in the family, etc.

    It sounds like your parents did a great job with their finances and are to be congratulated.

    The one thing I plan to do differently would be to split the college savings between the two children. If my one child chooses an expensive school requiring student loans, so be it, but if the other chooses a more economical school, they get the amount they didn’t spend in cash, along with some advice on places to invest it. It’s only fair.

    Family’s finally awake, time for Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!

    • says


      That is fascinating to hear! Seems pretty smart to have the talks during big milestones. I think that’s what I’ll do if I become a parent. I wanted to be economical in high school, but I had to basically guess my way around finances and the decision to attend public school. I was fortunate that W&M was one of my three target schools that so happened to be cheap. Even then I thought ~$3,000/month was cheap. I think tuition now is still under $5,200 a year for new students and $4,300 a year for continuing students! Damn that’s cheap.

      Gonna go ask my dad for $100,000 now. Thanks for the tip!


    • getagrip says

      With respect to higher education what I did was offer the following promise to my kids:

      Two years community college living home and two years state school (living there or commuting), all on me. Equivalant amount for a trade, culinary, ITT, or whatever education post high school.

      Four years state school they end up with a nice car payment for something they’ll never drive but can possibly pay off in five to seven years of working ($28-35K)

      Four years out-of-state or private school, they end up with a mortgage payment for a home that they will never live in, and never enjoy and will likely be paying on for up to 20 years ($150-200K)

      Should they decide to not pursue any higher education post high school, great. They either join the military or get a job and start paying me rent. They get five years to decide on the education part then the money is mine, all mine! I always wanted a doctorate :-). My point was always an expectation of training beyond high school in either a trade, college, etc. and if they don’t take it, opportunity lost. The fairness is in the opportunity, extended to each child, not the money.

      With respect to inheritance I’ve been clear they better not expect any. I plan a long, expensive life with many bells and whistles. Anything they get from me is a gift, and will likely come before my death. On my part I’m expecting to help with first home purchases, marriage, grandkids, etc. so I need to continue saving for that post college. Really, the way I look at it, if me and the wife die early (e.g. late sixties), there is plenty for them. If we die later (e.g. mid eighties), they shouldn’t need our money because they should be set up for their own retirement.

      With respect to parents, my father left it all to my mother and I paid the lion’s share for her funeral and will likely never see that back. With respect to my MIL, I made a huge mistake when she showed me her IRA, life insurance, and bank beneficiary forms; etc. because she had inadvertantly left it all to my wife, legally and cleanly cutting out her other children from everything but her home.

      We could have gotten it all.

      But no, I had to be the good little alter boy and tell her that what she said she wanted was not what was going to happen and helped her get new forms and filled them out to ensure an even split. (Sigh) Oh well, given her aunt is 99, I’m not expecting anything from her in the near future anyway :-).

  4. says

    I don’t expect to receive an inheritance from my single mother- I’m honestly not sure how much she’s managed to accumulate over the years, but I doubt it’s a huge nut. My in-laws are much better off and I guess we probably will receive an inheritance from them, but they are fanatical about everything with their children being absolutely equal- so I’m sure that will be the case with any type of inheritance.

  5. dunny says

    I am so glad to hear that people have honour and respect (i.e. expect no inheritance, don’t bring up inheritances with parents unless they bring it up or even discuss with siblings or other relatives).
    Compensation for looking after an elderly parent or grandparent doesn’t sit right with me.
    My sister and I did not discuss dad’s money with him or each other while he was alive unless he asked for help.
    I have heard of children and teenagers asking about their inheritance when grandparents pass away (makes you wonder what they have heard their parents discussing). Happened to me with young niece and I was taken aback.
    I don’t think it’s always possible to avoid helping one child more than others, but as much as possible parents should distribute help and funds equally IMO. My parents helped my sister a lot when she was young and pregnant and told me that they could never give me the same. I was okay with that. I never expected anything from my parents after I left home.
    I am single and well off and my eventual heirs will be nephews and great nieces. As not all are good money managers, I feel like that any windfalls would be wasted by some, so am toying with leaving it all to one person who demonstrates good money management. Does an aunt have to be fair?
    Enjoy the holidays.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing. I would be very put off if children teenagers asked about inheritance to the point where id cut them out if they kept asking.

      Not sure about leaving everything to the one who is best with money. That person probably needs money the least if so no? If she was in charge with distributing to her cousins and stuff, she might feel tremendous pressure and be targeted in a negative way. Just something to think about.

  6. Danvvare says

    My plan is to have an open discussion with my mom to make sure I clearly understand her final wishes. We so rarely bring it up that I really have no idea what they are. As for an inheritance, I have zero expectations. A close friend of mine and his wife who are absolutely horrible with personal finance have been banking on receiving an inheritance from his father-in-law for YEARS and all I see it do is cripple their ability to fix their own misguided financial management protocol while they wait for the guy to die.

    Personally, it would always haunt me to know I couldn’t achieve my own financial well-being without the boost of an inheritance.

    • says

      I’m assuming that when the time comes, everything will be clearly spelled out in the will. That’s what I plan to do. I’ll be as thorough as possible with many bullet points and scenarios.

  7. Amy says

    We had an inheritance discussion with my parents. Not about how to split the money, but for them to think of charities to include in the will. My parents were concerned that my sister needed the money, so they did not want to designate any charity. I suggested they take it our of our half – but sadly that was not a priority of theirs. I really wish they would think about that more – but clearly that is the conversation we can’t have in our family.

  8. Jen says

    My Father passed away this year in July.. My Sister and I discussed whether there would be enough money to pay for his funeral and were very concerned about his finances. (Before he died his wife passed away 2 years earlier with many medical bills!)
    My brother was in charge of his finances and not only did he have enough to pay for a funeral and a very nice luncheon after, he left upwards of $200,000 to each of his 4 kids! WHO KNEW? I mean I would ask him regularly if he had enough monthly to survive, he shopped at COSTCO and never took vacations, never went out to eat… so I assumed…I was wrong. But then I got a little sad thinking that I wish he lived it up more with his money. He was only 70 when he died… and died with a broken heart (I mean it!) after living without his wife for 2 years…

  9. Dave says

    I have no expectation about inheritance. My father will sometimes joke when he purchases something new (could be a $100 item) that he is spending my inheritance. I think it best to have an estate planning discussion with parents. I am the executor to my parents Wills so I know how they have decided to split their assets but we have never had any discussion about specific inheritance amounts. That is fine with me as I could care less.

  10. says

    My parents will leave me nothing but mementos when they pass and I am fine with that. We have had the talk about planning for death. Even if you are leaving nothing it is kind to leave your affairs organized, your wishes know and your will clearly written. It is unfair to leave your messes for others to clean up and my parents are organized.

    A chance to get easy money from an inheritance brings out the worst in people. I am sure we all know inheritance horror stories.

  11. Ken says

    I’m gonna have to disagree with #2, at least the part about parents wanting to treat their kids fairly. I have 2 brothers, one of them my twin. The youngest is still in college because he keeps dropping classes because they’re “too hard”. Mind you, he takes 2 courses at a time and has never worked a day in his life. Parents have paid his rent and entire college education, something my twin and I didn’t have the luxury of.

    So for my birthday I asked for a laptop since mine was 10+ years old that I bought in college. Little brother “broke” his old laptop and mom and dad bought him a new $800 one to replace the one they bought him originally. They said no and gave me a $50 check for my birthday. This Xmas I asked for a new phone because mine was several years old. they said no, but they bought my little brother the exact phone I asked for. Maybe if they weren’t spending so much money on little bro’s rent, food, phones, computers, insurance, college tuition, etc they’d be able to spread the wealth around a bit between their other kids. Sorry for the rant, I just don’t get it and I can’t work up the courage to flat out ask why they keep throwing money at him when he’s coasting through life and my wife and I are both working full time and still struggling. It doesn’t help that I’ve been out of school for 8 years now and still owe 13k in student loans, something little bro will never have to worry about.

    • says


      It’s because love is unconditional. You’ve got to look at things from your parent’s perspective. They will naturally help the child that needs the most help. If you are struggling and tell your parents you’re struggling, then I’m sure they would help you out too.

      Thoughts on point #4″

      “Don’t ever expect anything more from your parents once you’re an adult. Instead, change your mindset to paying them back. If you are expecting an inheritance to take care of your financial needs, you are planning to fail.”

      If you’ve been out of school for 8 years now at ~30 years old, is it normal to ask your parents for a laptop and a phone? I’m just trying to understand different generation’s attitudes towards money and expectations. What about buying them a laptop and phone instead?


      • Ryan says

        I agree as this is what I’ve experienced in my own life. I can’t imagine asking my parents for gifts like that but I know that my siblings have. My sister has her master’s degree (let’s call her the most educated) yet is actively choosing to work in a job that under-utilizes her potential for about half what I make. My brother (the smartest) is barely self-sufficient, overspends on useless crap but makes a fair amount of money and is always struggling to make ends meet. Then there is me, the the middle child, arguably the “dumb” kid (lowest GPA, wasn’t in Natl Honors Society, etc) who has hustled working since I was 10 and somewhere along the line I’ve become the most self sufficient of all the kids which has led me to earn more than my siblings.

        Funny enough, like you, I got a good deal on Black Friday for a TV and decided to give it to my parents since they are way to “saver” to buy for themselves. They asked me how much they owed…I told them it was a present, they asked again…same answer. I think for them, it feels really weird to be on the other end. I could see their deep appreciation though…I’m sure they are going to try and “get me back” some way.

        Regarding equality: My parents have done their darnedest to keep financial things equal (they paid our tuition, birthday/xmas we get the same value of goods, etc) but beyond that their love for each of us is demonstrated differently. Like they’ll drive 1.5 hours each way to get my sister when she flies home to one of the larger airports in the area, go out late at night to pick my brother up when his car breaks down or my father will stay at my house with my dog when I travel for business.

        Like your father, my parents are really good savers and always run a surplus that I doubt they will ever be able to spend. My mom has struggled with her own siblings over topics of property and money (aunt controls my grandmother’s finances and sold the house out under my mom’s nose). My mom swears she will spend every penny whenever we joke around about inheritance given her problems with her siblings. I’m not planning on seeing any inheritance anyway since even I were to get one, it wouldn’t likely be until my late 60s or even into my 70s, it will definitely be a “bonus” but nothing I’ll consider working into my planning.

  12. JW says


    Great article, certainly appropriate for the day.

    One thing that sticks out to me as odd is that while you chose the route of only spending what you needed with education you appear to do the opposite with the TV you bought your parents. I realize this is highly subjective and dependent on each person’s values, buying a 50″ TV (or more) seems like such a frivalous (sp?) decision to me. How is someone’s TV viewing experience enhanced by buying the biggest TV one can afford (or find) – it isn’t! I think this symbolizes the materialistic fever so many of us fight or see our family and friends plagued with. I think a wiser spend of money is on an education (or true investment) based on fit, which can generate a tangible return, rather than paying up for home entertainment equipment or other “things”. It just feels like you’re not applying the same principle in those things you bough your folks (maybe it was more about the gift than the principle.)

    Just my opinion. Obviously your choice of education served you just fine.

    Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to you,


    • says


      TVs are relatively cheap nowadays. The 50″ TV cost only $599 before tax and after the Black Friday sale. I bought the biggest I could carry because the space in their living room could probably fit a 65″ TV. A 55″ cost about $1,100. A 60″ cost about $1,600, and a 65″ cost around $2,500 for a similar model. So the 50″ was actually the best bang for the buck in my mind e.g. to go 10% larger you had to pay 85% more.

      A TV viewing experience IS enhanced by a larger, and clearer screen. This is why movie theaters have enormous screens. Remember also that everything is relative. I can afford a 65″ LED TV, but I’m not 7 feet tall to be able to carry it. Hence, chalk one up for another frugal purchase.

      Happy Holidays!


  13. says

    Tricky subject, Sam. I have occasionally and briefly discussed inheritance with my parents, but only on the parts I think might not adhere to their desires should their estates go to probate.

    I completely agree that it’s a subject best left untouched, but I also feel like my parents might not have fully thought through the consequences of not having a will.

      • says

        No, neither parent yet has a will, and both have children from multiple marriages. It will be a mess if they don’t take action. My advice to this point is simply to get a will in place but it keeps falling on deaf ears…I’m guessing, for many of the reasons you noted in your post.

  14. Maverick says

    Before my mom retired, it was I, the youngest of three sibilings who helped her with retirement financial planning. As mom got older, she shared the contents of her will and gave executor powers to the oldest sibling. I continued to oversee mom’s finances and completed her taxes as the years went by. I also negotiated the major purchases like a new car as well as took care of her house repairs / remodeling and yardwork. I encouraged her to take vacations to Hawaii and Germany as well as camping with my wife. So mom joined us. As mom got older and her health declined, I would visit her at her house every evening to ensure she was okay, dropped off groceries as needed and that she took her meds. When she later passed away, my siblings, especially the eldest, was surprised at the increased value of the estate. So the eldest / executor divided up the estate accordingly and sold off the antiques (a sore subject). In the end, while we all received a part of her estate, I still have the wealth of many memories and pictures of vacations with dear mom. Today I will visit her gravesite and place a wreath. Happy Holidays!

  15. BarbIll says

    My parents just reminded me where they keep their Will. My dad has a daughter from a previous relationship. She gets a set amount, $500 while I would get the rest. This way she cannot contest the will as dad has thought of her.

  16. says

    I handled my mother’s fiances for roughly 20 years and had to handle a number of uncomfortable questions. For example, prior to entering assisted living her funeral arrangements had to be finalized and paid. Personally, I think it was a good idea to discuss these end of life issues before it is needed. There were other issues regarding end of life which are much more uncomfortable than money! In my mother’s case, I was involved with her will, so there were no surprises.

  17. Austin says

    My biggest concerns have never been the dollar amounts but the logistics of winding up an estate. Estates can be complicated. It’s helpful to iron out the details while someone is alive but it can be an awkward conversation.

  18. Paul says

    My father passed away when I was only three years old and my mother passed away almost 11 years ago. My mother was horrible with finances and I really didn’t expect any inheritance. My eldest brother had previously co-signed on a debt consolidation loan for my mother. He was stuck with a $12K bill upon her death. There are six children in our family and we all agreed to contribute $2K so that our brother would not have to pay our mother’s debt. The rest of her debt was forgiven upon her death. She still owed on a car loan, but more than the car was worth. No one wanted the car and my brother-in-law (the executor) told the finance company they could pick up the car any time they wanted to. So my inheritance ended up being a few small gifts I had given to my mother over the years and some silverware. As I said previously, I knew my mother was horrible with finances and didn’t expect any kind of inheritance.

    My wife’s mother is the same way. I do not expect anything when she passes away. Her father on the other hand, is set up nicely in his retirement. I believe he owns four homes on Vancouver Island and although my wife is not his biological daughter, I would not be surprised if he left her one of his houses. That said, I am definitely not expecting him to do so. If it happens, it will be a pleasant surprise.

  19. Sambuca says

    I felt really terrible this Christmas. I used to depend on an inheritance for the majority of my wealth, but I have since eclipsed what amounts I could have ever expected. I told my Dad – should I rent a Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes SLS, Audi R8, or Aston Martin Vantage convertible as my Christmas present? I’m thinking I’ll buy one of these in a year or two, leaning toward the R8. And he told me that he had always fantasized about being in an Aston Martin someday, and almost bought a Porsche when he retired. I think this is how life will always be, that I flew business class 20 years before him, and flew Emirates First Class Airbus which he’ll never get to do. Kinda makes me sad, but he’s 70 years old. I hope he spends all of his money, but I think his greatest joy is in having a substantial sum for his children… So I say nothing, other than here

  20. Nate @ TheyBuyTime says

    This is always an interesting topic :0)

    I encourage my financial counseling clients (especially high-net-worth individuals) to have the inheritance conversation with their family/heirs early in the game.

    The shock-factor, “reading of the will” type event we see play out on TV doesn’t do anyone any favors. Who benefits in that scenario?

    Advantages to discussing the inheritance (if any) before mom and dad pass include:

    – Increased communication/dialogue in the family (which often times leads to better planning)
    – Decreased risk of the will be contested later (I see this all the time – with high-dollar lawyer fees flying around everywhere)
    – No surprises

    “Fair does not always mean equal. This is how your father and I have decided to divide our assets when we are no longer with you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask so we can help minimize hurt feelings. We want everyone to be on the same page! The best gift you can give us, is a sincere level of respect for our decision… We left everything to the dogs!!!”. Kidding (only about the last part).


  21. says

    This is an interesting topic to me. My parents are in their sixties, just starting their (very well-funded!) retirement. Their parents are in their 80’s, and sadly don’t have too many more years on this world. They’ve been discussing this with their parents (not so much the inheritance portion, but just estate planning in general) and seeing how difficult it is on everyone involved.

    What my parents are doing is using it as a chance to discuss it with us, their 25-35 year old children. We know everything will be split 50/50 (only the two of us), and that is perfectly fine with me. I’m not banking on money being there in 30 years, but if there is… so be it; half to my brother, half to me. Though we might be a bit of a weird family, because we used to talk jokingly (morbidly?) about my Dad being worth more dead than alive.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing!

      Sounds like you are going to I hermit a nice chunk of change. Any thoughts on kicking back in your career and letting your brother take care of your parents health and finances given you know the split will be 50/50?

  22. says

    You are a good son. I’m pretty sure we won’t get any inheritance from my parents. That’s fine with me. They gave us a good education and that’s plenty. Mrs. RB40 might get some inheritance. She is the only child so that’s easy. Her parents live in the booney, though. I’m not looking forward to going down there to deal with all their stuff. Hopefully that day will be far off.

  23. Kristy says

    We just had estate planning discussions with my in-laws this year. Unfortunately, this occurred due to health issues with both of them. My MIL had double by-pass surgery last year and was set to go in again in August (we are not quite clear why it didn’t happen). My FIL was diagnosed with dementia early this year and he has rapidly declined. My MIL has not paid the bills or been involved in the finances in over 40 years. DH and I went with them to help with the planning and really to understand how things were set up in case my MIL passed away. FIL is not capable of paying the bills and we wanted to make sure that the estate was set up correctly so someone could pay them if she passed.

    My MIL also talks like she doesn’t have any money, which is not entirely true. They have two homes, one at the beach on the bay. DH and I attempted to help with a budget this year because my MIL has no idea what’s going on. They are likely going to have to sell a home, but she is not ready yet. Part of the reason to sell is going to be the cost of putting my FIL somewhere where he will be safe in the future. Not sure when that will happen, but at this point she is caring for him. We were/are not prepared to discuss these things with my IL’s….my in-laws had my husband at 40 and we are only 35. Also, we are in the middle of raising our own kids. I think the discussion of estate and inheritance are two different things. We don’t care if they spend all of their money (which very well could happen due to health issues), however, we do want them to have some sort of plan for how to pay for some of the costs. I do think estate planning with your parents is something that should happen early, before anything changes.

  24. says

    I come from a lower-middle class family, and never expected any type of inheritance from my parents. They’re now in their mid-50’s, and really just starting to get their own financial lives together. My Mom has had a lot of frustration with her parents, and their end of life planning (or lack of). They were basically living off of Social Security, which left my Grandma in a very bad place when Grandpa died, and she went from 2 checks to 1. Grandma has also taken to giving away all of the family heirlooms (nothing of real value, but treasured all the same) to one daughter, which is infuriating my Mom, and will come as a shock to the other children when Grandma is gone and there’s nothing left.

    Since we’re both pulling our financial lives together, my Mom and I talk a lot. If something were to happen to my parents now, there’d be a fair amount of money between insurance and retirement accounts. My Mom would like us to split it evenly, but take away from my younger sister the money she owes my Mom (~$50,000). They don’t have a Will though, and I keep reminding my Mom, if it isn’t in a Will, it isn’t happening. So, if something were to happen in the near future, I assume everything would be split evenly between the 4 of us. But hopefully they’ll live long and healthy lives, and spend every penny, and then it won’t matter. I’d be much happier knowing they enjoyed it while they were living, rather than leaving it to us.

  25. Fat Chance says

    Sam, touchy subject to be sure.

    First let me say my wife does taxes for very wealthy people. Giving a crapload of cash to kids/very young adults is almost certain to screw them up. Dont take it lightly.

    I have teenagers. I want them to make their own way. Right now my will gives them nothing until they are 40 years old. I am considering changing that to 59-1/2. I discuss inheritance all the time with them (along with everything else financial). For instance, I take my kids to breakfast every Saturday and Sunday and have for 16 years. I let them know that whichever kid is around to take me to breakfast when I get old may be entitled to a slightly larger share (although said with humor, it may be true). My 14 YO son wants a motorcycle. I told him the day he buys one is the day his siblings get everything and he gets nothing (this is a FACT). As they become adults and manage their own money, I will have to decide who actually gets what. I will split the inheritance equally if they are living fairly good lives. But if one is a school teacher working his ass off to make life better for others and one is a selfish, hard drinking junkie hanging at the race track wasting money, there will be a decision to be made. Regardless of what happens, it will not be a surprise to anyone involved. My money will never, EVER be used to let one kid thinks his parents love him more or less than another kid. I think that is borderline abuse.

    I never counted on an inheritance. My parents passed a few years ago. I was out of state while my brother was down the street. My dad passed last and required a bunch of care for the last month. The money was split equally. I felt bad that my brother was the one who had to take care of pops while I was 1500 miles away. I made a mental note of what I thought my brother’s time was worth. I doubled that and then used that amount to take my brother on an international trip to let him know how much I appreciate what he did for the family. If he asked me for money I would have given it to him. I never want something like money getting in the way of a family relationship.


    P.S. Spent my weekend searching for Hawiian real estate. Way out of reach for me…for now.

    • says

      “I let them know that whichever kid is around to take me to breakfast when I get old may be entitled to a slightly larger share (although said with humor, it may be true). My 14 YO son wants a motorcycle. I told him the day he buys one is the day his siblings get everything and he gets nothing (this is a FACT)”

      Awesome and also funny at the same time! Thanks for sharing. And thank you for admitting you think about these things and have an open dialogue with your sons. They will appreciate the transparency.

      Your humor rings totally true. I hope they have the ear to listen.

  26. fern says

    Your post didn’t address the fact that many people who expect to inherit something won’t get anything at all. What’s the statistic, one out of two people over the age of 70 will get dementia or Alzheimer’s? If they do, even if you feel you have the time, space and energy to care for them in the beginning, eventually, they’ll need to go into a nursing home so they have round the clock care. At about $5,000 a month, nursing homes can deflate a nest egg pretty quickly, and of course, if your parent hasn’t gifted the money to you five years before entering the nursing home, the home will take most of their assets, including any expected inheritance.

    • says

      See point #4 at the end. But good point regardless. Another reason to not expect anything .

      4) Don’t ever expect anything more from your parents once you’re an adult. Instead, change your mindset to paying them back. If you are expecting an inheritance to take care of your financial needs, you are planning to fail. A TD America study in 2012 said that 40% of of those ages 14-22 expect to receive an inheritance while only 16% of parents expected to leave one!

      • fern says

        Guess my comment wasn’t as clear as it should have been. What I meant was, your post didn’t address the rather high likelihood that most people won’t inherit from their parents because Title 19/nursing homes will likely absorb your parents’ life savings, unless they die suddenly and don’t need round the clock care.

        My point was, with the average person having a 1 in 3 chance of getting some form of dementia or alzheimer’s, most aging people will wind up in a nursing home….hence no inheritance.

  27. says

    I am not expecting any inheritance. I am planning 100% to make it on my own. It would be great to get any sort of financial windfall someday, but I would prefer my family all has a wonderful, long life and not get anything than to lose them early to get more money.

  28. fern says

    ..unless, that is, you CAN have that difficult talk with your parents and they gift you the money at least five years before they need to enter a nursing home. That’s how the law is set up now, anyway.

    • fern says

      My posts are getting a bit mucked up. To go along with what I said above, I was trying to say that what your post didn’t really address was the strong likelihood that most people won’t see an inheritance anyway with 1 in 3 people predicted to get some form of dementia or alzheimer’s, we’ll all end up in nursing homes that will absorb all life savings via Title 19.


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