“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” That quote from Proverbs resonates with many of us. We want to be in a financial position where we have the ability to leave money to our heirs to give them financial security and to allow them to carry on our family legacy.
Wanting to leave money to their children is often the only thing my clients are certain of when they come to see me about legacy planning. Beyond that, they haven’t thought about it. That’s why I want to spend these next two blog posts on the issue. Next time I’ll give you 3 questions to consider when deciding how to pass your money on to the next generation, while today I’ll give you some general things to think about to get your ideas flowing.
This is a conversation for everyone
First of all, I want you to know that this is a topic everyone needs to think about. You do not have to be Warren Buffet or Bill Gates to have this conversation. Whether you expect to have ten thousand dollars or ten million on your deathbed, the conversation is the same. How much you want to leave to your children, how it should be divided, how it should be distributed, and what you hope will happen with it are topics of interest to anyone who has money and has children.
This is a complicated topic
Families are complicated, and therefore inheritances are complicated. The proliferation of blended families over the past 60 or so years has only made it that much more complicated. Everyone wants to be “fair.” But in the case of a blended family, where different children have different parents, does “fair” mean leaving an equal share to everyone, or leaving more to the biological children? Or maybe you want to leave money to your daughter but you have never liked her husband and don’t want him to touch it. Maybe you’ve been estranged from a child for years and have only recently reconnected; does that child get an equal share of the inheritance as your other child, who has been loyal and loving all these years?
I believe that because there are so many emotions around this topic – love, loyalty, guilt, resentment, anger, disappointment, fear – people don’t give it the attention it deserves. It’s easier to ignore it. I caution people against burying their head in the sand, though; you’re doing a disservice to your family and your legacy by not giving it the attention it deserves.
Remember, this is your money
It is not your children’s money. You are not just an agent in charge of holding it until you die so they can get what is rightfully theirs, even if that’s how they frame it to you. Therefore, you have the right to decide who gets it and how. You even have the choice to spend it all in a blaze of glory before your passing (though I do not recommend this option!). The point is, you do not “owe” your children all of your money. If you have plans for your money after your death that mean your children won’t get 100% of it, that’s okay. You just need to make a plan.
Get help creating your inheritance plan
My team at Renn Wealth Management Group believes that knowledge is power, and that by creating a plan now, you’re doing a wonderful thing for yourself, your family, and your community down the road. As you can see, the topic of leaving money to your children isn’t as clear-cut as it first appears. If you’d like help figuring out how to do the same in your family. Contact us today and start the conversation.