The Case For Not Telling Your Children How Much They Stand To Inherit From You
The promise of a desirable reward can sow discord in otherwise harmonious relationships. If you are a member of Generation X, you probably saw the episode of the Garfield and Friends Saturday morning cartoon about the Buddy Bears, three brothers who never disagree. The trouble starts when Garfield offers to buy them a pizza, because he knows that it is impossible for any three people to agree about pizza topics, no matter how much they love each other. The same can happen if you reveal too much information about how much money you plan to leave to your children in your will. Being transparent about your estate plan with your close relatives is a good thing, but focusing too much on the money that your children will or will not inherit can lead to resentment on all sides. A Hillsborough County estate planning lawyer can help you navigate the challenging task of talking to your children about your estate plan.
Greed, Manipulation, Sibling Rivalry, and Other Things That Can Go Wrong
Since estate planning is about enjoying your life, instead of just focusing on death, it stands to reason that, when you give your children their inheritance early, everyone wins; you get to see your descendants benefit from your generosity, and your children get to express their appreciation. “Early inheritance” is not a panacea, though; so many things can go wrong. What if you give your children money to get them out of a financial bind, but then they get themselves into another financial bind, but there is nothing left to bail you out after they are gone? Do you divide early inheritance (or right-on-time inheritance, for that matter) equally among your children, or unequally according to financial need? What if your kids accuse you of playing favorites? The worst-case scenario is an ugly game of undue influence where your children play you against each other and try to pressure you into leaving them more money.
Instead, you should tell your children that you have a will and who the personal representative is. Promising your children a specific amount of inheritance money, which they will receive when your estate settles, is not a perfect solution, either. It’s easy for them to feel that you are using the inheritance money to control them, and it is easy for you to feel that they are just using you for the money. No one should make financial plans based on an inheritance they plan to receive in the future; let the amount of inheritance money be a pleasant surprise.
Contact an Attorney Today
A Tampa probate lawyer can help you decide how much money to give as gifts this year or in the future and how much to save and let pass on to your estate, in or out of probate. Contact David Toback for help.