You want to protect your children. We all do. It’s a parent’s instinct, and this desire to protect them continues throughout their life, whether it’s making sure they wear a helmet when riding a bike or considering how to include them in your estate planning. When they’re young, kids require physical protection and support. And as they age, they require less physical help and more emotional and financial support. The more you prepare them for life’s challenges, the better equipped they will be to handle them. And yet, when it comes to issues around wealth and estate planning, it’s remarkable how little discussion there is.
It makes sense, of course. Few people want to discuss their ultimate demise. Whether you’re a parent or a child, the conversation can be depressing. But if we can re-frame the discussion and how we think about it, there is a great opportunity for learning and for deepening relationships.
Instead of thinking about the conversation as “here’s what’s going to happen when I die,” think of it as “lets talk about the future”. It’s a chance for you to share what you are considering and also to hear from your children about issues that they want to address. Maybe there is cherished property. Charitable giving may also be part of the mix. There is always nuance to understand, and it’s important to avoid assuming you know what others want and how they will act.
Involving your family in these decisions is a way to teach and convey your values but also an opportunity to learn from your family. Some of your children may be more interested than others in becoming involved in the decisions, but you will never know unless you ask their input. Inviting them to learn from you and asking them to share their thoughts shows you respect them and value their perspective. It also gives you a chance to change your plans and reflect their input.
Think of how satisfying it is to get input from your family, using your planning as a way to understand each other and create stronger relationships. Add that to your legacy. It will be one of the greatest treasures you give to your family.