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“You cannot predict what may happen between now and receiving an inheritance,” said Ireland. “The earlier you start preparing, the more financially secure your own retirement is likely to be.”

Planning for an inheritance can be a tricky endeavor, for both givers and receivers. On one side, the giver has to make appropriate arrangements for their estate in order to fulfill their wishes and bequests.  And on the other side, the future heirs have to consider how they intend to handle their gifts. Both need to be prepared if there is an unforeseen change of plans.

According to a recent CNN Money article titled Average American inheritance: $177,000,” it is a tale of two facts:

The good:

American retirees expect to leave an average inheritance of almost $177,000 to their heirs, the sixth highest of any country, according to an HSBC survey of more than 16,000 people in 15 countries.

And the tough to count on:

Around the world, 69% of retirees plan to leave an inheritance to their offspring, at an average of $148,000. Retirees in India were most likely to do so — with 86% expecting to leave money behind — while American retirees were the least likely, with only 56% expecting to give inheritances to their children.

You see, the math behind bequest and inheritance in the U.S. is an increasingly tricky one. There are a number of factors at play. These include such wild cards as the rising costs of late-age care, unstable financial markets and the lack of wealth transfer maximization. Regardless, whether you are the one planning the wealth transfer or the one planning to receive it, this is a time to be realistic.

So, what should you do? Be sure to do the best with the financial resources you have. As a family, that means coming together to consider the issues and discussing a real plan for how it all ought to fall into place under a variety of “what if” scenarios.

Reference: CNN Money (December 13, 2013) Average American inheritance: $177,000

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.