By Santa Barbara Will and Trust Attorney Julianna Malis
As people get into their senior years, it is natural to start thinking about the end of life. Those thoughts can bring about concern regarding the type of inheritance to leave to adult children and exactly how to carry out your wishes when passing down your assets to the people you love.
But, thinking about leaving an inheritance behind and talking about it with your loved ones are completely different things. It can be difficult to bring up the topic of inheriting money or property, especially if you have been raised with the idea that money matters are simply not discussed with anyone, particularly children.
However, having open conversations about what you plan to leave behind and your expectations for how your adult children should manage their inheritance can help to ensure that you leave a legacy that you can feel proud of. Here are some great tips for opening up the discussion about your family's inheritance with your adult children.
When to Have a Talk About Money
Determining when to discuss a sensitive matter like your children's inheritance is important; yet, choosing the wrong time can make the conversation more difficult than it needs to be. Being sensitive about timing can help to ensure that “the talk” ultimately goes well and that everyone is on the same page. Try to steer away from times when major events have recently occurred in your children's lives such as the start of a new job, purchase of a new home, or impending parenthood. Keep in mind, you do not have to have one all-encompassing conversation. Simply opening the doors of communication will help spur any additional discussions that are needed.
Starting the Conversation
If you are nervous about starting this type of conversation with your adult children, you may want to seek help from a Santa Barbara will and trust attorney first. A will and trust attorney can explain all your options and make sure you have everything set up correctly while giving you great advice and information. The more information you have, the more likely it will be that your reticence to having this conversation will fade away.
Helping Your Children Prepare for the Conversation
Despite the fact that your children are adults, they may not be any more ready to have a discussion about their inheritance than you are. But that should not prevent you from approaching them about it. Here are some tips to help prepare them for what they are going to hear:
- Before you start talking about specifics, present them with the financial values that are most important to you like charitable giving, self-sufficiency, education, and hard work.
- Plan on having a series of discussions rather than hitting them with everything at once.
- Plan periodic check-ins when the family can discuss specific financial information.
- Explain your decisions and actions so your children understand your rationale behind them.
- Listen to your children's comments and answer their questions. Creating an open dialogue will allow everyone's thoughts and feelings to be heard and understood.
Discussing inheritance with your children does not need to be difficult. Enter the discussion with an open heart and open mind and everything will fall into place. If you have additional questions about how to talk to your adult children about their inheritance or how to set up a formal estate plan to help ensure that your wishes are carried out after your passing, we invite you to contact our Santa Barbara will and trust attorneys at (805) 946-1550 to schedule a consultation.