BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The nation's largest-ever intergenerational transfer of wealth is under way. New research by MetLife's ( MET) Mature Market Institute and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates that boomers will inherit and be gifted with upward of $11.6 trillion, including $2.4 trillion that has already been distributed and roughly $3.2 trillion that will be handed down while elders are still living.
Baby boomers will inherit and be gifted with upward of $11.6 trillion, a study shows. It would mean the nation's largest-ever intergenerational transfer of wealth.
The median per person figure is $64,000, according to the study. Two-thirds of all Boomers stand to receive some inheritance over their lifetime. The estimates, drawn from national survey data, say the wealthiest boomers will get an average of $1.5 million, while those at the other end of the spectrum will be left in the ballpark of $27,000. Though high-wealth households get much larger inheritances in dollar terms, these amounts represent a smaller share of their wealth -- 22% for those in the top tenth compared with 64% for those in the second-to-bottom tenth. "For the lower-income people the inheritance means more, proportionally," says Sandra Timmermann , director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. Total household wealth for Americans of all ages amounted to $65.9 trillion in 2007 (adjusted to 2009 levels), making "the boomers' inheritance a significant portion of total American wealth," the report concludes. Timmermann says further research is needed to assess fully the impact of the recession and subsequent recovery assets. She also cautions that any prospective inheritance is uncertain and doesn't preclude the "need for increased financial planning and retirement saving."