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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ways to Help Younger Generations Understand Their Inheritance

Family dynamics are a complex matter.  Each family has its own set of values and experiences.  It is not uncommon that parent’s and grandparent’s intentions when leaving an inheritance can be misunderstood by their children and grandchildren.  This is particularly true in cases where the inheritance left appears unequal or if there is a blended family situation.  In any family, there are many benefits to taking time to explain your values and also your intentions in your Estate Plan.  There are many ways to accomplish this, three of which are discussed in this article.

One avenue of explaining beneficiaries’ inheritance is to include specific writing in your Will or Trust document.  A section dedicated to the intent behind the document helps to create common understanding between you, the Grantor, and your beneficiaries.

Another option which is more personal is to write a letter to all or each of the beneficiaries.  That can go a long way to ease tensions or disagreements.  Writing a personal letter can be particularly meaningful to children and grandchildren.  Consider utilizing this letter to encourage positive character traits and values you see in your loved one as you also describe your intent in their inheritance.

While the Estate Planning documents or letters accompanying the documents are beneficial, one of the most effective ways to avoid family division or tension is to have family meetings and communicate clearly during your lifetime.  The more intentional and open your communication, the more clearly your actions and decisions will be understood.  The setting and structure of family meetings will look quite different based on each family’s make-up.  Whether meeting altogether or one-on-one, the main goal is to communicate openly.

Family division due to inheritance is avoidable.  Be encouraged that even small steps to communicate and express your thoughts creates depth of understanding between the generations.  Focus on the relationships and the values you hope to inspire in those you love.

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