Family, birth of our children, planning for our family’s needs, birth of our grandchildren, estate planning, passing on our legacies, birth of our great-grandchildren, family ties live on; our legacies live on – only the generations change.
You have worked a lifetime creating a legacy you hope to share with our children and future descendants. You have met with your attorney and asked him to develop what you hope will be a fair and well-designed distribution plan that will pass the maximum financial assets to your heirs, and perhaps carry our philanthropic wishes as well.
You have determined which of your heirs shall be included, and “the how” and “when” the assets are given. You may have set up a Family Dynasty Trust, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts, and a Charitable Trust, along with your Revocable Trust.
You may or may not be treating your children equally in the distribution of the estate. Perhaps one child will inherit a business outright, and the other child will inherit via a lifetime trust. The two legacies left for them may not be of similar value.
Al of this is okay. Whatever you wish to do is okay. But think about how you do it, and then spend some time talking with your children while you are able to do so. In years of assisting families with their planning, I have grown to understand that those families who talk about their planning have the most success of leaving behind much more than just financial assets; they leave less emotional turmoil, less family squabbles, and less indecision.
What should you talk about and when? Think about your health, your age and your children’s maturity. When a parent experiences a sickness or near death incident, they tend to recognize the need to involve their children.
How you involve your children may evolve over time. One family I represented never discussed any of these issues with their children. Their intent was not to disclose the specifics of their estate, but they decided it was time to review generally what they had put in pace. They were unsure of how their two children would handles this discussion, and were nervous since the father had just battled cancer. A plan was put in place and the time scheduled. To their amazement, this family meeting lasted hours. They were pleased with how the children accepted the parents’ planning. The parents found themselves reviewing every detail of their assets, their values, and the way in which they hoped their children would carry on their legacy. They no longer worried about whether their plan was appropriate and whether it would continue place after their death without disrupting the family harmony.
Openly discussing issues with your advisers and your family will assist in the process of updating your planning as well.
Only you know your children, their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses.