Sara Rowbotham Cornell was lucky. She inherited her parents’ New Hampshire farmhouse, built in the 1870s, when her mother passed away. She has a painting of it hanging in her own home.
But it took her a few years to be emotionally ready to sell the place. Eventually, the cost of upkeep, plus a visit to the empty house, convinced her that she wouldn’t be selling her parents’ spirit or her memories.
Her conundrum is typical of those undergone by heirs since the beginning of time. But the problem is coming to light more than ever now with the aging of the Baby Boomers and the fact that their parents were raised in the thriftiness of the Depression era.
An article in The New York Times cites a study that says boomers will ultimately receive a total of $84 trillion, most of it by 2030.
Thus, they are dealing with deep emotional reactions. The money can cause them to start new careers or simply retire.
In some cases, heirs are reluctant to use the money on things they think their parents would not endorse. Others go the opposite route, believing that since they inherited the money they can do whatever they want with it.
As for investing it, many follow their parents’ conservative ideas and put the lion’s share of it in the bank. Others use some of it to honor their parents’ memories. Others, if they had a strained relationship with their parents, use it in ways their parents would not like.
There is no right or wrong way to do it, the story says.
Many of the boomers had no idea how much would be coming their way and were not ready for it. The article says parents should have a conversation with their adult children about what they are worth and what the children are likely to receive. But the parents must initiate the talk, lest the children seem greedy.