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Do your kids know what to expect out of their inheritance?

Bringing up the topic of estate planning with loved ones is never easy, but most planning experts agree that even those who have complete plans already in place should strongly consider discussing those plans with their spouse, parents, children, or siblings. Even if it seems like everything is settled, it is generally thought to be wise to let loved ones know what to expect, particularly when it comes to children who are anticipating an inheritance of some kind.

Why is this so important? The answer is that children and their parents often have very different ideas when it comes to an inheritance. For example, a survey found that one in four people between the ages of 18 and 59 expect that at some point they will inherit money and many of them plan to use those funds to resolve debt or to boost retirement savings.

In contrast one in three parents say that they intend to leave their money to charity rather than to their children. If children are planning to use funds to pay down debt or to retire, it would be very detrimental if children over-estimated their potential inheritance, so discussing ballpark amounts and what to expect can help them avoid a financial disaster down the road.

While these conversations might be difficult to have, there are many reasons why they are important. The discussion is also useful for setting up children to use an inheritance thoughtfully rather than spending it hastily on immediate needs or luxury items.

Source: Kansas City Star, “Leaving an inheritance? Manage expectations,” Steve Rosen, Oct. 11, 2013. 

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