It is the transfer, before and after their death, of built up wealth from one generation to their children. The current crop of adults have benefitted greatly from a tremendous generational transfer of wealth but changes in demographics and in medical science means that much less wealth is likely to be transferred to future generations from their parents.

Planning for the transfer of wealth has traditionally been about strategies for protecting the assets from capital and other taxes. In future, tax planning may no longer be the most important issue because more people are living longer and health care costs for those in old age are soaring.

Thanks to medical advances, a 65-year-old man has a 60% chance of living to age 80 and a 40% chance of reaching 85. For women, the odds are 71% and 53%, respectively.

The recession has obliterated many seniors’ nest eggs and with interest rates so low countless elders don’t have the income they once projected and are systematically spending their savings just to maintain their lifestyle.

Recent research conducted by Allianz Life in the US showed that only one in five people over the age of 72 believe they have a duty to leave their children money. One in three adults aged over 60 say they don’t feel prepared financially to live to 85; almost one in two say the same about living to 95.

Children, who at one time may have expected a retirement bailout or help with securing a mortgage from parents, are likely to be in for a shock. Not only is there little or no money in the parental till, but they are being asked to help the same parents who once looked like a golden goose. In some cases these parents not only need money, but they require increasing levels of personal care, taking up much of their children’s time.

This is the new normal – pensioners, with little or no guaranteed lifetime incomes, having no safe means of investing for meaningful income that they wind up exhausting their savings to make ends meet.