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Should your talk with heirs emphasize legacy over money?

When you sit down with your kids for a serious discussion about inheritance matters, you may be tempted to focus on the money aspect. After all, that is probably the important thing in their minds, especially if you have a sizable estate.

However, it might be worthwhile to consider steering the discussion in another direction, and talk to your children about legacy.

The millennial outlook

If your children are members of the millennial generation, they are probably more interested in enjoying a life of fulfillment than in accumulating wealth. This makes your chat a little easier. Rather than telling the kids how much the company you founded is worth, tell them stories about how the business began and how it grew. Your children will probably find this a more riveting conversation.

Talk succession

If you allow financial inheritance to take a back seat to legacy succession, you may get a glimpse of how your heirs will handle the transfer of wealth. Your goal is to help them understand the important role they will play in preserving the family’s wealth for future generations.

Responsibility versus entitlement

If you let your children know how much money they will inherit, the knowledge might lead them to make unwise decisions about anything from education and career choices to the overall commitment to a productive future. Make sure your children know the difference between responsibility and entitlement. You want them to embrace the effort involved with carrying the family legacy forward rather than succumbing to a sense of entitlement over their inheritance that could lead to mismanagement of the family’s wealth.

Keeping your estate plan current

When you talk to your children about inheritance and the matter of the legacy you will leave in their hands, the discussion should serve as a reminder of the need for updating. Your estate plan should be revised from time to time to reflect any changes, such as new assets you have acquired or an increase in the value of your holdings. Your children would probably tell you that keeping your estate plan current is the responsible thing to do.

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