moneyA majority of parents with more than $3 million in investable assets have yet to fully disclose the depth of their wealth with their children and 15% haven't said a peep about it, according to U.S. Trust's Insights on Wealth and Worth study released Tuesday.

According to the report, 52% of the 457 wealthy parents surveyed have not fully disclosed their wealth and a similar percentage say it isn't important to leave a financial inheritance to the next generation. Ouch.

With three quarters of survey respondents saying their wealth came from hard work and focus, and roughly half noting it also involved sacrificing their personal lives, relationships and health, it may come as no surprise that these survey respondents now put a higher value on concentrating on relationships and travel, than an inheritance for their children or leaving a positive impact on society.

"U.S. Trust has done similar surveys in the past, but what I think is different this time is a distinct generational mindset. You have these self-made baby-boomers and they're really changing the established notion of retirement and what it means to have an intergenerational transfer of wealth," says Keith Banks, president of private wealth management company U.S. Trust, a unit of Bank of America (BAC).

Baby boomers' anticipated transfer of wealth is expected to hit an estimated $41 trillion, which would be the largest ever in the U.S., Banks says.

Why Some Parents Are Staying Mum on Riches


In listing reasons why they've opted to remain quiet about their wealth, roughly a third of these wealthy parents say they've never thought about it. According to the survey, another 24% were concerned that it would result in lazy children. Another 20% were afraid their kids would make poor decisions and another 20% feared they'd squander the money.

That may explain why 45% of these parents felt that their children would need to be at least 35 years old before they would possess the financial maturity to handle their inheritance. Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents lacked strong confidence that their kids could handle any inheritance that may come their way.

At some point, high-net worth parents may want to clue the kids in on the inheritance they stand to gain so that they're prepared to understand wealth management. According to U.S. Trust, 27% of surveyed parents never discussed the transfer of wealth with their adviser and a third never broached the topic of their heirs.

Additionally, 56% of survey respondents haven't recorded all of their personal property and assets and, more importantly, 51% haven't laid out instructions for distributing their personal belongings among the heirs like who gets dad's memorable Rolex watch used for timeouts or mom's beloved tea set used for parties in the playhouse.

As the survey notes, personal possessions are often the source of family heartache and conflict when settling an estate. And that stands to reason as they hold the most memories of their parents for heirs, compared to the millions that these heirs may not be aware of.

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felicia

My parents are both retired and extremely wealthy. That being said, I could care less if they left me anything. No amount of money in the world can or could ever replace them, or change the fact that one day they will no longer be here in this world with me. So I hope they enjoy every last dime of the wealth that they built over a lifetime they truly deserve the great life they have.....

April 29 2011 at 10:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Penrice

Wow, this suddenly makes me feel poor... otherwise being comfortably well off. A modest salary and a very worn out car and PC to be sure, but about to benefit (in terms of having a small mortgage deposit paid) from a share of a parent cashing in and downsizing from a family home whose value has fallen quite a bit in recent years... to still better than half a million USD (let alone $3m!), having grown overall from probably less than a third of that (in real terms) originally.

Not that I realised that it was actually worth anything like as much as that - or as useful once liquidised - until very recently. It's just not polite to crow about such things.

April 26 2011 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Granite Sentry

So this is how the great generational raid on the seniors begins. It was bound to happen. www.granitesentry.com

April 23 2011 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Bourque

expect nothing, and if something should appear, donate to charities.

April 23 2011 at 6:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
photomstr

Are rich kids so stupid as to not know they are rich? Only in america man . . . only in america.
I know what money is worth and I know what my parents did for work so I have a damned good idea what they are worth. I will tell you they are worth more to me alive than dead NO MATTER WHAT their monitary worth. Only in america man, only in america!

April 23 2011 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mocha

My parents told us exactly where everything was and how it was going to be split up (right down the middle). I told them not to leave me anything and to donate my half to charities of their choosing.

April 22 2011 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rexx73

FIRST OF ALL A GOOD PARENT WOULD HOLD NO GURDGE AGAINST THEIR OWN KIDS, IF YOUR KIDS ARE CRAP, YOU WERE A CRAPPY PARENT, YOU TURNED A BLIND EYE TO THEIR DEALINGS, WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE PUT A BOOT UP THEIR ASS'S. i WOULD NEVER TURN AGAINST MY KIDS NO MATTER WHAT. I WOULD FIGHT FOR THEM, DIE FOR THEM, I COULDN'T LOVE ANYONE MORE THAN MY WIFE, DAUGHTER-IN LAWS, SONS, AND GRANDKIDS, I WOULD EAT THE DATES OF THE CALENDAR, AND DRINK THE WATER IN THE BED SPRINGS IN ORDER TO GIVE THEM MY LAST PENNY, IF IT WERE TO BESTOW HAPPINESS ON THEM, ONLY A FOOL WOULD TURN ON THEIR OWN........THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ THIS....

April 21 2011 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
onefastchic2121

When these parents become too old to manage their own finances this will become a problem, especially if they get dementia. It's very unwise not to talk to the heirs about who is in charge of the estate and settle any disputes when one is still in full control of their mental capacities.

April 21 2011 at 8:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cutsr

This article is very depressing. Does it say more about parenting skills or financial responsibility that they do not want to leave money to their kids. I don't expect anything from my parents, but if I do get something, I hope to be responsible with it (like I was raised). If I have something left for my kids, I am hoping that I raised them in such a way I would be proud to leave it to them.

April 21 2011 at 5:00 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Lorenzo

Mom and dad died with no assets at all, though we were quite middle class, even upper middle class. You see, Dad plowed all his money into his business, at one time having products manufactured for him in the Far East, but taking venture capital and a second mortage on our house. Business is a gamble, and my dad, as much an entrepreneur as he was, couldn't sustain the business, creditors closed in, we lost the house, and my dad never recovered financially--by that time he was in his 60s and unemployable. Mom died a few years later, having had to go back to work as a social worker, earning barely enough to keep us fed. THAT, my friends, is how America works. Kudos to those who have "made it." Not all do.

April 21 2011 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lorenzo's comment
clueless

Sometimes greed takes over........ and things go bust. Sounds like what happened here.

April 24 2011 at 8:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply