boomersThat’s SKI as in “Spending the Kids’ Inheritance”.

Like most parents, Carol Willison has sacrificed financially for her two children.  Now that they have reached adulthood, and she has reached retirement age, she’s decided not to leave them an inheritance. She told the LA Times

“My goal is when they carry me away in that box that my bank account is going to say zero,” Willison said. “I’m going to spoil myself now.” […]

“I’ve given them a terrific foundation in life,” she said. “I’ve helped launch them with their education and their careers. If they can’t make it on their own now, they can never make it. I’ve done my job. Now I’m going to enjoy life.”

Part of that seems to make sense—after all, how long should the apron strings be? Even the acronym “SKI” is a little illogical—can the money really be called the “kids’” inheritance, pre-emptively, as if the progeny more or less expected the windfall? Do parents have a moral obligation to bequeath money to their adult children?

As a parent I would tend to agree with Ms. Willison’s contention that it ought to be enough to launch them well. On the other hand, as a parent, I would also want to continue to help my adult children if I was in a financial position to do so. And many boomers do:

Many boomers already are giving the equivalent of an inheritance, except they’re doling out the cash while they’re still alive, said Ken Dychtwald, chief executive of research firm Age Wave.

They’re supporting elderly parents, adult children or other family members who are suffering professional or financial woes.

There is another angle that the L.A. Times story did not consider: while individual parents are not obligated to bequeath assets to their kids, surely the generation they comprised should not be leaving liabilities. There’s the rub, and I’m afraid it reveals a selfishness that few Boomers are willing to own.

In a survey of millionaire boomers by investment firm U.S. Trust, only 49% said it was important to leave money to their children when they die.


Some Boomers are holding back because they worry that their kids will squander inheritance money or develop a sense of entitlement.

Oh please. From whom might children learn to develop a squandering sense of entitlement, if not the very Boomers who ushered in (and then financially mismanaged) the cradle-to-grave welfare state? This is a generation which has enjoyed historically unprecedented levels of state funding and/or subsidizing of nearly every aspect of life.

It’s no secret that western governments are going bankrupt left and right because of unsustainable entitlements. In light of that reality, it seems obscene that the very Boomers who have saddled future generations with crushing societal debt have also decided not to leave their own kids any of their personal wealth.

Mariette Ulrich is a homemaker and freelance writer. She lives in western Canada with her husband and six of their seven children. Mariette holds an Honours B.A. in English Literature...