Ask a Trust Officer: Having “The Talk”
DEAR TRUST OFFICER:
When should I talk to my children about their inheritances?
As a general rule, sooner is better than later. An inheritance should not come as a surprise; it is something that requires preparation and planning. In that way, an inheritance may prove to be more than a temporary windfall, because it may provide lasting financial security for your heirs.
If your estate plan includes trusts for your children, or if it will not be divided equally, it is especially important that they understand the reasons and benefits of your wealth management decisions. This may be done at a “family meeting” attended by the whole family and your estate planning advisors. Some parents have difficulty discussing financial matters with their children, so having a professional on hand to moderate the meeting and answer questions can be quite valuable.
Estate planner Gerald M. Condon once observed, “You really don’t know your children—until they divide their inheritance.” Airing the motivations behind an estate plan will typically promote family harmony, reducing the chance of conflict when the plan goes into effect. However, your heirs need to understand that estate planning is not a family project, and your plan is not being put to a family vote.
We’re happy to be of assistance in family meetings. Please call on us to learn more.
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