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US 'Baby Boomers' Face Inheritance Woes


U.S. President George W. Bush turns 60 this week, joining the ranks of about three million American "baby boomers" who will also reach that landmark this year. The AARP (formerly called American Association of Retired Persons) says that by the age of 60, retirement planning should be well underway. But as VOA's George Dwyer reports, many of those now planning for retirements are finding that one source of income may not be available.

An entire generation of Americans born in the two decades following World War II began turning 60 this year. Nearly 8,000 so-called "baby boomers" are reaching the landmark each day. It is an age that is sometimes seen as the gateway to retirement. But a new survey by AARP, a retired persons' advocacy group, finds that the inheritance earnings many of them are hoping for are unlikely to be available.

The case of 53-year-old Michael Finn is typical. He has some money because of an inheritance. "I inherited less than $40,000. Part of that was because it was split between seven people."

And Finn may be one of the lucky ones. AARP analyst John Gist says only a small percentage of boomers is likely to receive any significant inheritance at all.

"It's sort of like winning the lottery. Everyone dreams about it, but it's not going to happen for most boomers."

Gist says most baby boomers will need to work well beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, and will need to supplement traditional retirement savings with other forms of income.

"They're going to have to build it through savings, possibly working longer and of course through Social Security."

AARP cites a variety of factors to explain the smaller-than-expected inheritances. Many boomers come from relatively large families. People today are living longer, while health care costs have been rising steadily for both the boomers and their elderly parents.

Michael Finn has already accepted the fact he will have to work beyond traditional retirement age. "I will have to work to pay for my expenses in life like health insurance. I don't see myself retiring until I die, probably."

A recent survey found boomers expect to retire around age 63. But fully two-thirds say they will continue to work after retirement. Some will work simply to stay busy and feel fulfilled, but many others because that is how they will pay the bills.

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