As a certified financial planner and an estate planning attorney, I am in the unique position to counsel my clients in both their financial planning and their legacy planning. Many times, I feel like I am acting as a family counselor as well.
Too often people are faced with internal conflicts about their estate planning because the relationships with their children have deteriorated. Many attribute the conflict to the influence of a child’s spouse. Unfortunately, many people feel either neglected or disrespected by their adult children. These conflicts may even result in a lack of access to their grandchildren.
My clients seek my counsel. “I feel like I’m supposed to leave my assets equally to all of my children, but one of my kids has basically kicked me out of their lives. Should I still leave this child my money?” Obviously, I can’t advise a client who to leave their money to. Everyone must answer that question on their own. My instincts, as a parent of four children, is to encourage them to try to seek reconciliation.
It’s completely understandable to have reluctance to leave money to a child who has abandoned their parent. Other people feel that their children don’t seem to want a close relationship, yet the child is maintaining minimal contact to ensure they receive an inheritance. These are difficult decisions. It’s not uncommon for a parent to disinherit a child who has disappointed them.
Ultimately, if you choose to distribute your assets disproportionately among your children, leave your estate to charities or perhaps skip your children and leave your assets to your grandchildren. You need to be proactive and create a plan that is consistent with your wishes. If relationships with family members improve in the future, you are always able to make the appropriate changes.
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