Every Friday I answer a reader’s question. If you have a question, you can contact me.
First, I’ll take a moment to brag.
My parents love me more than my two brothers! They recently revealed that I will be receiving a larger portion of the family inheritance than either of my brothers. Here is the split: Biggest Brother 33%. Bigger Brother 33%. Me- Little Brother 34%. Ahh. Joseph, now I know how good it felt to be the favorite. Some in my family, including my parents, have insinuated that I am receiving 34% simply because the lawyer put our names alphabetically.
Ok, now to the question. A reader writes:
“I used to think I would leave more money to a child who was disabled, or perhaps a missionary, or in some kind of lower budget situation, maybe widowed with kids, whatever. Since I have children, I am afraid I’d have to leave money equally to my kids regardless of their situations.
Should You Leave Money in Your Will for Your Children?
A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22 NIV)
The Bible does support the idea that it is honorable to leave an inheritance for your children. Still, the question remains, what if your children are financially independent? Should they still get money from your will? Here are two common responses:
Leave the kids the money – Because your kids are faithful with money, they should get the money, and they should be entrusted to use it responsibly. Since they are good stewards, they can give the money away if they wish.
Leave the money to a church, missions, or a charity – Because your kids are faithful with money, they have no need for the money, so it should be given to charity.
Kids and Wills: A Guide For Distributing Your Wealth
Have Open Dialogue
When talking wills and inheritance, open communication is essential. If you prefer to end up with a dysfunctional family as described in the Grisham book, The Testament, then you should mislead your kids and give them the impression they will actually be getting an inheritance. If, however, you love your kids, talk to them. This is especially true if they are good money managers. Ask them for their thoughts and input. You don’t want your kids to think they are being punished for handling their money well.
Not An “Either”, “Or” Discussion
The choice does not need to be all family or all charity. You could divide your inheritance between charity and family. Perhaps 1/2 goes to the kids and 1/2 goes to a charity. Again, this will be important to discuss with your kids. You do not necessarily need input, but share why these charities are important so that when the will is read, your kids can feel proud about your decisions, not envious about receiving a limited share. As your kids become more financially secure, you could revisit the discussion and adjust the allocations to family and charity.
Divide the Estate Equally Among Siblings
An inheritance is a loving gesture. If one sibling receives a lager share of the inheritance, what you are communicating (intentionally or not) is a preference. Leave your kids a legacy of love, not a reason for jealousy and arguing. Regardless of how well your kids handle money, I think money given to children should be split equally, unless there has been a prior discussion where one sibling would prefer for the others to receive their share.
I’m interested in your thoughts …
What if junior is a bad money manager? Should you consider cutting him or her out of the will? Should the estate be divided equally among siblings?
Do you really think that the only reason I am getting a larger inheritance is alphabetical?