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I read an article in the New York Times recently that should sober anyone who is planning on receiving an inheritance. It was titled, “8 Reasons You Should Not Expect an Inheritance.”

1. People live longer and people who live longer spend more of their money.

2. Social Security and Medicare will probably offer reduced benefits in the future. That means people will be dipping into their nest eggs to cover the loss of those benefits.

3. Fewer people have pensions and what retirement they do have is linked to the market… as we have noted of late, when there is a downturn in the market, interest income drops and people must dip into principal to live.

4. People who pay their health care costs out of pocket face an insurmountable challenge. A 55-year-old couple who pay their health care out-of-pocket can expect to spend $1 million to finance health care for the rest of their lives. Assisted living and health care living can exhaust a sizeable estate in a short time.

5. Divorced people pass on less… two people living together can live cheaper than two people living apart.

6. People tend to drain their home equity when they are cash strapped in their later years… reverse mortgages serve to create income streams for aging homeowners.

7. More people are using the equity from their paid-up life insurance policies to create additional income for living expenses. So there is no insurance money remaining to be inherited by a beneficiary.

8. Transfer of wealth is increasingly happening while the older generation is still alive. Grandparents may help subsidize college educations for their grandchildren or transfer their assets to their children.

(Source: Ron Lieber, 8 Reasons You Should Not Expect an Inheritance, The New York Times, June 21, 2008. From a sermon by Monty Newman, "What Has God Done for you Lately?")

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