Estate Planning

The Millennial Misperception

Our kids may be savvier than we think

Two millennial women laughing together

If you’re like many parents of millennial children (the generation born between 1980 and 2000), you may be concerned about their overall financial preparedness—unsure whether or not they have adequately developed the necessary skills and values to be sound investors and unselfish inheritors of wealth.

Keep in mind that this is a generation that is expected to inherit more than $30 trillion in wealth from their parents’ generation over the next 30 years.1 And there is certainly a confluence of factors that makes those worries seem more than justified.

Millennials are the very first internet generation. We worry that lives to a great extent led online will create less engaged and more isolated adults who lack essential interpersonal relationship skills. We’ve witnessed the rise of reality TV programming where narcissism, self-indulgence and fame are celebrated in equal measures. We wonder whether social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram foster self-indulgence and have given our children an unhealthy sense of self-importance. Even the shrinking size of the modern family can be cause for concern. After all, it’s much more difficult to feel as though the world revolves around you when you’re one of six or eight children rather than one or two.

Dispelling the myth

While certainly technology-driven information sharers, millennials aren’t anywhere near as insulated or disengaged as the media would lead us to believe. In fact, they tend to be exceedingly cause-driven and charitable—with strong social consciences that are more globally than locally focused. And they are often more fiscally conservative than their Baby Boomer parents.

Having come of age during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, they’ve seen firsthand the negative consequences of corporate excess and fiscal irresponsibility. As a result, theirs are some of today’s loudest voices calling on corporate America to be more socially responsible and thoughtful about controlled growth.

Quite possibly, this is a generation of young adults even more driven than their predecessors by a desire to “do good” for others more than to “do well” for themselves.

Creating a legacy of your values

Philanthropy affords you a tremendous opportunity to cultivate the empathy, generosity and social engagement that’s inherent in your millennial children. Irrevocable, planned giving solutions such as donor-advised funds2 and certain charitable trusts can make giving a shared family endeavor—sparking their sense of selflessness and a desire to support the causes they feel most passionate about. As an added benefit, some of these strategies can allow your gifted assets to continue providing you with income, as well as tax benefits.

Of course, no broad discussion of generational traits can ever adequately encapsulate the uniqueness of each individual millennial. Yet the very real concerns of parents and grandparents around the ability of their heirs to effectively manage considerable wealth are both natural and understandable. The key lies in establishing an open, honest dialogue. Talk to your children about the legacy you’ve created and the responsibilities that come with that legacy. Be forthright about the mistakes you’ve made along the way and the things you wished you knew earlier in life.

Helping your millennial children find their focus and direction may not be as challenging as you think. All it takes is some careful thought, planning and communication. Your SunTrust advisor can work with you to help educate the next generation and identify the best strategies to fit your family’s needs and circumstances.

Educate the next generation

Work with your SunTrust Private Wealth advisor on your wealth transfer plan.

1 Accenture, “The Greater Wealth Transfer,” December 2015

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