Although some have dubbed the times in which we live a "new Gilded Age," there are some notable differences. Minnesota residents may have already heard that the wealth in this country is heavily concentrated, with 1 percent of American families holding about 35 percent of the country's riches.
However, most of the percentage come from "new money" that they have amassed themselves and not from established families of tycoons, like the Vanderbilts or Rockefellers of old. In fact, there has been a trend away from families passing their wealth down their own family lines, with several of today's most famous millionaires making a commitment to give most of their fortunes to charity.
Nevertheless, some are expecting that the country will see an "inheritance boom" when baby boomers find it necessary to hand the value of their estates down to the next generation. This may impact the country in a number of ways, including a notable sea change in the list of the country's most wealthy individuals. One should expect that list to include more second and third generation tycoons who inherited their wealth.
From a probate prospective, more and larger inheritances will inevitably mean more contested probate proceedings. When inheritances grow more frequent and when the stakes get higher, there will be more incentive for disgruntled heirs and others to challenge wills or initiate other probate litigation or trust litigation. This will probably happen even when wealthy individuals take great care in their estate planning, as an estate's value can change dramatically over time.
As the volume of probate litigation increases, so will the demand for experienced probate litigation attorneys who can help a family member protect value of estate as well as his or her interest in that estate.
Source: The New York Times, "What comes after rich baby boomers? Kids with a big inheritance," Annie Lowry, Mar. 11, 2014