It won’t always be easy, but it’s worth deciding how you want to share your legacy so the process goes smoothly.
Ready to decide who will receive what from your estate, and when? It can be an uncomfortable process, even under the best of circumstances.
Should you base your decisions on who wants what? Who deserves what? Or what each family member is actually prepared to handle? With a few practical tips and a bit of prep, you can confidently address the main issues, while defusing any potential problems.
Here are a few tactics you may want to deploy, with help from your family and professional advisors.
Consider the preparedness of your potential heirs
Does each one have the financial know-how, education, or experience to support their role as a steward of your wealth? What is their relationship like with you and other family members? Have they expressed interest in upholding your financial legacy?
An heir readiness checklist, which covers everything from your heirs’ competencies to their roles as part of your legacy, can help you define an effective strategy for distributing your wealth. If you find your heirs are ready now, consider sharing part of their inheritance with them while you’re still alive to guide them and enjoy how they mature as financial stewards.
If you’re not confident that an heir would use their inheritance appropriately, you have a range of options – including leaving them with nothing, allocating a smaller share than other family members outright, or establishing a well-structured trust that abides by your wishes and incentivizes the behavior you’d like to see. This last option may be particularly fitting if you’re concerned the child in question would quickly burn through an inheritance. The key with all of these options is thoughtful communication beforehand to help maintain family harmony.
Talk to your kids individually
Make sure each understands the details of your intentions, with the caveat that what you choose to share and when may depend upon the beneficiary’s age and financial competency. Providing a clear idea of what assets they’ll be taking on can help prevent inaccurate expectations, and it’ll also allow them time to prepare for the financial and emotional aspects of managing wealth – especially if it’s substantial or in the form of land or business ownership.
Additionally, some individuals choose to write a family love letter or ethical will to accompany their other estate planning documents. This letter gives you a place to share important life lessons and express your desires for the legacy you leave behind.
Set up a family meeting
Once you’ve established your plan, hold a family meeting or series of meetings to share the details. Prepare what you hope to communicate ahead of time to ensure you accomplish all your goals.
While it may be a challenge, making these decisions is an important step to passing on your financial legacy. Your financial advisor can help provide additional resources to help guide the process.
Sources: Raymondjames.com; Nuveen Investments Wealth Management Services; forbes.com
Raymond James and its advisors do not offer legal advice. You should discuss any legal matters with the appropriate professional.