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Inheritances: How many Americans leave them and how much they give

Despite the recent recession and the economic belt-tightening, many Americans still want to provide for their children and grandchildren by leaving an inheritance. If you are considering what/how much you might like to leave to your heirs, now may be a good time to get started on your estate plan.

According to a recent study, more than half of retirees in the U.S. are planning on leaving an inheritance. This is based on a survey of some 16,000 people across 15 different countries. According to the results, U.S. retirees plan to leave an average of $175,000. Compared to other countries, America ranks sixth in terms of inheritance dollar amounts.

As a point of reference, Australians apparently have the most money to leave behind. The average inheritance in Australia is just over $500,000.

Some other countries are not nearly as wealthy as the U.S or Australia. But according to the study, generosity still runs deep even in countries with lower per-capita income levels. In Mexico and India, for instance, inheritance sizes are smaller but a greater percentage of the population plans to leave an inheritance. Between 84 and 86 percent of retirees in these two countries plan to leave an inheritance.

Studies like this one are interesting, but they shouldn't be thought of as rules or guidelines for your own will. If you choose to leave behind money or property, the specifics are entirely up to you. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you draft a will that best reflects your wishes and your financial circumstances.

Source: International Business Times, "US Retirees Expect To Leave $175,000 To Their Heirs, Says New HSBC Study [CHARTS]," Lisa Mahapatra, Dec. 6, 2013

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