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.
Determine how to handle a wayward beneficiary.
Options range from leaving your black sheep with nothing, allocating a smaller share than other family members outright, or establishing a well-structured trust that abides by your wishes or incentivizes behavior you’d like to see in your loved one. This last option may be a particularly smart solution if you’re concerned the child in question may 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. Or, you might want to leave a family love letter or ethical will explaining your desires. What you share and when depends largely upon the beneficiary’s age and financial competency.
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
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