Gregory S. DuPont
Fears When Talking About Money
It's a sad but all too common reality that the largest contributing factor to generational loss of wealth are family members who aren't able or willing enough to communicate with heirs. Sometimes fear gets in their way, like when they're worried about saying something wrong and causing harm or resentment. Lack of communication leads inevitably (and quickly) into trust issues, and does more harm that good. Although it can be difficult to talk about money, it's important to see an Ohio Estate Planning Attorney and get your documents in order. That way, you can reduce conflict by making your wishes known to your heirs and intended beneficiaries.
The following are some of the fears that prevent people from communicating with their loved ones about their wealth.
Fear of Creating an Entitlement Mentality in Heirs
We have all heard horror stories about trust-fund kids who had no motivation to do anything other than relax and enjoy life because they knew that a large inheritance was coming. These children grow up expecting their inheritance to solve all of life’s problems. This mindset often leads them down the path where they do nothing more than coast through school because "the future is already planned out." Knowing that the large inheritance was coming, they did the bare minimum to make sure they would receive it, but in the process, ignored opportunities to get the most out of their education or learn new skills because. Luckily, by working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can craft an estate plan that avoids this outcome. Your estate plan could include incentives for your beneficiary, such as qualifying to receive money from the trust only if they graduate from an accredited college or university with a certain minimum grade point average. You could also include restrictions on what the money can be used for, such as tuition, starting a new business, or the purchase of a first home. This eliminates the idea that the money is available for luxury or frivolous items. On the other hand, if you are truly concerned about how your beneficiary will use the money, you can leave the decision of how much money they receive and when they receive it to the discretion of a trustee. This trustee can be someone who understands your concerns and will encourage your beneficiaries to develop a strong work ethic and become productive, contributing members of society.
Fear That Heirs Will Squander Their Inheritance
You have worked hard to create and maintain your wealth. You've spent where you needed to, and saved in other areas. So, it's only natural that when the time comes for passing on those investments; some people might worry about how what their money will be used for. But there are ways around this fear: including previously mentioned provisions within an estate plan. Using a trust, you can specify what our loved ones can do with any funds you leave them. So, if your loved one desires a wild weekend in Las Vegas, they will need to save up for it first.
Fear That Outside Influences Will Overtake Heirs
When you're thinking of passing on your legacy, it's important to protect your money and your loved ones that will be left behind. Unfortunately, there are some not-so-nice people in the world who disproportionately target families with wealth. Potential gold-diggers can easily find an attractive candidate for their plan. These people tend to enter your life and the lives of your loved ones when there is money at stake. Your loved one could be incredibly level-headed but it can sometimes be hard to say no when someone close wants to go on expensive trips or buy nice clothes. In addition, about half of all marriages end in divorce, meaning ex-spouses could be on the hunt for a large divorce settlement. An experienced estate planning attorney can not only restrict how your loved one invests your money but also keep it from predators and creditors by properly drafting the documents.
Fear of Treating Heirs Unequally and Fostering Sibling Rivalry
Depending on your parenting style, you may choose whether to treat your children and grandchildren equally in your estate plan. Treating your loved ones equally means that they all receive the same amount; treating them fairly means individuals will receive money and property based on their individual needs and situations. The answer to the “equally or fairly” question will depend on your unique circumstances and intentions. Some believe that to prevent family conflict, every person in a generation should be treated the same way (i.e., equally). Others think differently and say it’s important for each member of your family to get different amounts depending on what they need in a way that gives them all the same access to opportunities and advantages in life. One child may make more money than a sibling, or one grandchild may have special needs while the other grandchildren do not. These differences might require different amounts and types of inheritances.
Fear That Disclosure Now Might Limit Choices and Changes in the Future
Whom you tell about your plan has no bearing on whether or not you can reverse your decision legally. However, depending on the type of plan you build, you may be unable to make further modifications. A revocable living trust or a last will and testament can be changed at any time up until you are incapacitated (unable to make decisions for yourself) or you die. On the other hand, there are irrevocable trusts that, while offering increased asset protection and potential tax benefits, also don't allow for much change in the future.
Although having an initial conversation with your family about your financial wishes can be nerve-wracking. We all know how difficult it can be to talk about finances with your family, but that doesn't mean you should avoid the subject. There are many benefits of being open and honest with your family. You might want to have an annual conversation about things that have changed.
Fear of Running Out of Money
If you are like many people, the prospect of not having any money can be daunting. Earning or acquiring money offers a sense of security. Without money, people feel vulnerable. Also, unless you plan to work until the day you die, you may also worry that the money you have acquired during your lifetime will run out before your death, leaving you to rely on government assistance or family members. While this scenario is always a possibility, working with an experienced financial advisor can help you get ahead of this fear by taking a look at your current income, savings, and expenses to create a budget and investment strategy that helps you meet your goals.
Overcoming Your Fears
Creating a comprehensive financial and estate plan with the help of experienced advisors and having an honest and open conversation with your loved ones about your financial plans, are two of the first (and potentially most important) steps to overcoming the fears that arise about money and inheritance. To help you prepare to create your plan, consider how you would answer the following questions:
- What does money mean to me?
- Am I comfortable telling my family about my plans for my wealth, why or why not?
- What do I want to teach future generations about money?
- How can I best prepare future generations in developing financial competency?
- Is running out of money a concern for me?
- Do I worry about creating a sense of entitlement among my loved ones?
- Will future generations responsibly handle my money?
- Do I need to worry about outside influences taking advantage of my children and grandchildren if I leave them a large sum of money?
- Do I want to treat my children and grandchildren equally or fairly?
The answers to these questions will help you express your fears, attitudes, and goals about your wealth and help you create a plan to address them. Discussing your philosophy about money with your loved ones will allow them to know what to expect after you are gone instead of being left in the dark.
Call us at (614) 389-9711 to schedule an appointment so we can discuss your options for protecting your wealth for generations to come.
Not ready to schedule an appointment yet? Read our Consumer's Guide to Estate Planning in Ohio here for more information.