Even before the college loans are paid, wise young workers are already saving for retirement. The number one concern for their senior coworkers, is have they saved enough? Will their money last through their whole life and will they have enough to handle whatever emergencies arise?
But wait there’s more! Having finally retired and settled into a lifestyle that satisfies and meets the budget, another question reaches the top of the list. To whom will I leave whatever is left when I die?
Often parents want to leave something to their children. There is an urge to want to make life better for our offspring. We hope that we can help them reach their own goals and dreams.
Some parents leave whatever is left in a will or trust. Others decide to distribute funds while they are still living. They might believe that the timing for doing the most good is now, or they may prefer to see their children enjoy the gift. Some parents have even said, “I plan to spend it all. I expect my children to work for what they want in life!”
Some may choose to leave the bulk of their estates to their church or a charity that they believe will use the money to make a positive difference in the world.
Parents who choose to give now are not necessarily more loving that those who wait or those who leave their estates to charity. None of these choices are right or wrong. They are simply choices that reflect the values of individuals. Many things influence those values including life experiences and family traditions, as well as the financial status of the adult children.
We have seen some high profile stories about families having to deal contentious legal battles while they are still grieving. That is obviously not what we want for our families. It is important that parents seek help from an experienced Estate Planner who will help them work out the details of achieving their goal. Parents may also ask for the Estate Planner to facilitate a family meeting. This not only helps everyone understand (at least in broad terms) what to expect and that matters.
Whatever your stage of life, it makes sense to be thoughtful, plan for the future and do the most good with what you have. When you decide how and when to pass it on, may it bring you joy!