Many of our clients are so relieved to have finalized their estate plan that once they leave our office, they don’t even want to think about it for a period of time, if ever, again. However, some of them are so excited, that they want to discuss it with everyone who will listen. This raises an important question – when should we discuss our children’s potential inheritance with them? Like most issues in estate planning, there is no easy answer . . . no one size fits all. In some instances, if children know that they will potentially be receiving a large inheritance, the fear that they may become less motivated is very real. In other instances, children may have absolutely no idea how much money their parents will be leaving them, and when the time comes, may be absolutely shocked at receiving $5 million dollars, having lived very frugally during their lifetimes, and having no concept as to how to manage such wealth.
Another issue which you should consider discussing with your children at the appropriate time is “how” the money has been left to them . . . is it in trust for them, to be protected against claims of a future spouse as long as it remains in trust? Is it given to them with staggered distribution dates? Outright upon your death?
When to speak to your children about what, and how, you plan to provide for them is something to discuss with us at your next Multi-Year Review. There is no perfect answer, but we will be happy to discuss your particular situation and share our thoughts.