Generational wealth is the wealth that is handed down from one family generation to the next. It might include important assets like cash, real estate, stocks, or family company ownership. 

Education, relationships, the capacity to take higher risks, and a wealthy position inside a family firm may all contribute to generational wealth. This can happen after the loss of a parent or another family member, but it can also happen while both are alive. 

Although many households might anticipate acquiring generational wealth, a tiny proportion of transfers inside rich families contribute to the largest portion of generational wealth transfers. 

What is generational wealth? 

Generational wealth is characterized as the potential to leave a significant quantity of money or assets to your successors. Real estate, stock market investments, a business, or anything else with monetary worth are examples of these assets. Simply put, people who inherit wealth from their parents or grandparents have a huge financial edge over those who do not. 

These people are likely to be able to avoid taking out school loans and other sorts of high-interest debt. Instead, their bequest may be used to fund income-producing investments, appreciating assets, or even the purchase of their first house. 

Retaining generational wealth 

Nevertheless, it is difficult to retain generational wealth across numerous generations. In the second generation, around 70% of families lose their wealth, and in the third generation, 90% of households lose their wealth. 

Most American households have small inheritances. For instance, from 1995 to 2016, over 55% of inheritances have been under $50,000. Only 2% of inheritances surpassed $1 million at the opposite end of the wealth scale. 

Despite their modest number, just 2% of inheritances amounted to more than 40% of all money inherited; the 55% majority's share was less than 6%. 

Generational wealth transfer

Generational wealth transfer is a substantial form of wealth for families of all wealth and income levels, accounting for roughly the same share of total wealth for the affluent and the poor. The vast majority of generational income is transferred to already rich beneficiaries. 

Only approximately 5% of all inheritances are less than $50,000, and half of all inheritances are less than $50,000. Only approximately 2% of inheritances are more than $1 million. Nevertheless, these huge transactions account for 40% of all funds transmitted. 

Generational wealth transfer beneficiaries are more probable to have a college degree, greater earnings, and more wealth. When compared with people who do not get such donations. This is particularly true for people who receive gifts from live grantors Inter Vivos. 

While most generational wealth transfers occur from parents to children, the beneficiaries are frequently in their middle or later years when they acquire any cash or other assets. 

The most prevalent form of generational wealth transfer is inheritance, which peaks around the age of 60. Inter Vivos Gifts, on the other hand, are generally given to receivers who are considerably younger than the sender. 

Passing down generational wealth

The majority of inter Vivos recipients are in their twenties. It is not necessarily necessary for a generation to die off in order for its heirs to benefit. Families have alternative options for transferring their money. 


In 2021, families can transmit $15,000 in cash or property per person, or $30,000 per couple, without paying federal gift taxes. A family with four children, for instance, might gift their children $120,000 tax-free in 2021 and proceed to do so in subsequent years. Eligible medical expenditures given directly to the provider, like tuition, are exempt from gift taxes. 

Education expenses 

Usually, money is passed when one generation pays for the education of another. The tax legislation supports this by exempting tuition payments made directly to educational institutions from gift taxes. However, housing and board, books, and other costs are not exempt.


Even between families of moderate resources, assisting with the downpayment on a younger person's first house is a frequent intergenerational presence.

Image source: Mark