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Expert Sources: Largest Wealth Transfer in US History

 

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PAUL G. SCHERVISH
DIRECTOR, CENTER ON WEALTH AND PHILANTHROPY
AT BOSTON COLLEGE

Office: 617-552-4070; paul.schervish@bc.edu

 

 

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JOHN HAVENS
SENIOR ASSOCIATE
DIRECTOR, CENTER ON WEALTH AND PHILANTHROPY AT BOSTON COLLEGE
(617) 552-4070
email: havens@bc.edu

 

New Report Predicts Largest Wealth Transfer In History
$59 Trillion to come from American Households from 2007 – 2061

Chestnut Hill, MA (May 28, 2014)  An estimated $59 trillion —distributed among heirs, charities, estate taxes and estate closing costs—will be transferred from more than 90 million U.S. estates from 2007 to 2061, in the greatest wealth transfer in U.S. history, according to a new report issued today by researchers at the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (CWP) at Boston College.

“The baby boomers are in the process of receiving the largest wealth transfer in history and then they will, in turn, provide even a larger wealth transfer to their heirs, to charity, and to taxes,” says Paul Schervish, the Center’s director who authored the report with CWP researcher John J. Havens. “One major finding in this report is that the very wealthy are applying a greater proportion of their net worth to charity during their lifetimes," says Havens.   "More and more money is being put directly into charity and foundations during a donor’s lifetime and not as great a proportion is showing up in the estate.”

Among the highlights in the study, titled “A Golden Age of Philanthropy Still Beckons, National Wealth Transfer and Potential for Philanthropy:”

  • The sum directed from final estates (for which there is no surviving spouse) toward charity is estimated at $6.3 trillion.
  • $36 trillion toward heirs
  • $5.6 trillion in Federal estate taxes
  • Total gifts to charity during the study period are vastly greater, according to the study, which estimates that lifetime giving will yield an additional $20.6 trillion for charity from 2007-2061.

“The question for the financially secure is, do they want to more passionately invest the money into a new business or into the stock market or do they wish to also actively invest this money for return on investment through the philanthropic and charitable worlds?,” says Schervish. “And more are opting for the latter with larger donations and earlier in life, with more energy and with more entrepreneurial disposition. As for why, there is a satisfying pull to improve the well-being of others with whom we identify as if they were family or other loved ones.  It is a very rewarding return on psychological, temporal, and financial investment.”

For more information on the report:

http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/research_sites/cwp/pdf/Wealth%20Press%20Release%205.28-9.pdf

To read the study, A Golden Age of Philanthropy Still Beckons, National Wealth Transfer and Potential for Philanthropy:

http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/research_sites/cwp/pdf/A%20Golden%20Age%20of%20Philanthropy%20Still%20Bekons.pdf

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Sean Hennessey
Associate Director
Office of News and Public Affairs
Boston College
sean.hennessey@bc.edu

(617) 552-3630 (office)
(617) 943-4323 (cell)