No one enjoys facing end-of-life choices for their loved ones.
Past generations found it so painful that they often kept their affairs private until their will was read, which led to even more pain after there was any hope for making a change.
Avoiding this topic is easy, but is often harmful. Inheritors don’t want to think about losing someone they love, even if they have questions about what to expect and what their loved ones expect from them. Conversely, their loved ones often want to enjoy the here and now and avoid difficult subjects.
But even though it’s easier to avoid hard conversations, it’s important to start talking now. If you are passing on your wealth, honest and open communication will help you pass on your values and wisdom with it.
Here is the family guide to savvy generational planning to help you navigate this difficult, but potentially uplifting conversation.
Just Start Talking
If you have to jump into a cold pool, the best thing to do is just do it.
This is a tough conversation, but putting it off isn’t going to make it easier. So gear yourself up and be upfront about it. Here are some ideas on where to start depending on your generation:
- “Dad and I saw a lawyer today about our estate plan. We’d like to talk to you about it.”
- “Someday you will be coming into some money. We’d like to start talking to you about the responsibilities that come with it.”
- “Our financial advisor would like for us all to come in for a joint meeting so you can learn more about how we manage our investments.”
- “I know it’s none of my business, but I was just wondering if you and Mom have seen a lawyer about your estate plan.”
- “My siblings and I are concerned that we won’t know what to do when the family assets pass to us. Can we start talking about this now?”
- “I think the time has come for me to see a financial advisor. Can you introduce me to yours?”
Define Your Family Culture
Companies have a culture. It’s often what sets them apart from their competitors and keeps them working together as a team.
When it comes to your family’s assets, you want to have a culture that sets what values to live by and how people should behave.
Whether this exists already or not, take advantage of family get-togethers to ask the big questions:
- What kind of family do we want to be?
- What do we want to be remembered for?
- How do we want to treat one another and speak to one another?
- What things are truly important to us as a family?
- What are the unique talents, gifts, and abilities of each family member?
- What are our responsibilities as family members?
- What are the principles and guidelines we want our family to follow?
You are almost guaranteed to run into a disagreement about the answers to some of these questions, but that’s ok. Better to talk it out now than later when nothing can be changed.
Set Family Goals
Once you’ve figured out a culture, set your family goals. What is it you want to have and do as a family? Typical family goals may include:
- Intra-family loans: Done right, this can be a great way to help family entrepreneurs or those in difficult circumstances.
- College education: Without proper planning, families can be left scrambling to pay for education.
- Supporting minor children: What if parents pass unexpectedly?
- Home ownership Family vacations
- Retirement (including long-term care costs)
- Philanthropy: Important causes the whole family can support.
This is a lot to figure out, but once you have common values established it’s easier to understand which topics take precedence.
Learn Financial Concepts
The best way to teach children and young adults about money is to weave lessons into daily life.
Try not to make money a taboo subject, or conversely something to obsess over. Instead, think of it like allocating chores or getting groceries. It’s just another facet of daily life to consider.
Here are some resources that can help you and your loved learns gain financial literacy:
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
- Sudden Money: Managing a Financial Windfall by Susan Bradley
- The Wise Inheritor by Ann Perry
- Raising Financially Fit Kids by Joline Godfrey
- The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall
Prepare Heirs and Executors
Have a plan so that your family isn’t thrown into confusion when it comes time to accept their inheritance.
The key things to include in this plan are:
- What to do first
- How to retitle accounts
- How to take withdrawals in a tax-advantaged manner
- How to manage inheritance to preserve and protect assets for the future
It’s a difficult topic to get into with a lot to cover, but if you want to avoid hardship and turmoil the best time to have it is now.
Sometimes it helps to have a professional there with you to help guide the conversation. As experienced financial professionals, we help clients like you figure out the best retirement plan for their situation, so that when they’re ready they can retire gracefully with peace of mind.
Please connect with us and let us help you plan for your dream retirement. We would be delighted to go on the journey with you.