Study Reveals Sense of Obligation to Support Aging Family Members is Strong

Americans’ sense of financial obligation to family members is strong and born out of love and generosity, but does have limits, according to a new study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

Most Americans also believe that children have some obligation to help their aging parents financially if necessary, though many parents (42%) say they wouldn’t accept money from their children.  More than six in ten (62%) believe children should call their parents at least once a week to see how they are doing; 58% say children should have a parent live with them for health or economic reasons (50%).  Forty-six percent say they should provide financial support to their elder parents or in-laws if there is a need.

Saving for retirement to avoid dependence on family is important to most who also believe in protecting their families should they die early.  Across the generations, nearly four in five (78%) respondents believe there is an obligation to provide for a surviving spouse if one dies unexpectedly.  More than half (52%) believe in leaving something for younger children, typically enough to carry them through at least part of college (55%).  Six in ten (63%) Gen Y and Gen X respondents feel providing for children is important, compared to 38% of Boomers, likely because many children of Boomers are now adults.

Even given the desire of Americans to leave enough money if they were to die unexpectedly, 41% with life insurance coverage say their coverage falls short or aren’t sure they are covered adequately.  Gen Xers are most likely to believe they have inadequate coverage (40%), compared to 28% of Boomers and 31% in Gen Y.

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