Although many parents hesitate when it comes to discussing their estate plans with their children, doing so can be very helpful in terms of avoiding future acrimony. On this point, the California Estate and Business Law Blog recently posted the following:
Deborah L. Jacobs has written an informative article in the October 2005 issue of Bloomberg Wealth Manager (pdf format – slow loading but worth the wait). The article discusses the family dynamics of estate planning with adult children. Key graphs:
Many parents are afraid to inform children about an inheritance for fear it will “demotivate” them – destroy their incentive to work or to be productive members of society. But Thayer Willis, a therapist in Portland, Oregon, and author of Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth, says she’s had several clients in their 50s or 60s who didn’t know they were getting a huge inheritance and would have made very different life choices if they had – about careers and leisure activities, for instance. They wound of resenting their parents for being so secretive, Willis says.
Lee Hausner, a Los Angeles psychologist specializing in money and families and the author of Children of Paradise: Successful Parenting for Prosperous Families, explains that it’s perfectly appropriate for children to discuss their inheritance with their parents. And Las Vegas attorney Steve Oshins recommends children ask that their inheritance be distributed through a trust rather than outright – and the trust should be drafted to provide protection from law suits and claims of divorcing spouses.