If you're a parent with multiple heirs, here is a bit of advice from estate-planning professionals: Before making any decisions about who gets what, think carefully about the emotional legacy you want to leave behind.
The inheritance you leave isn’t, in itself, your legacy. This is true even if you’re passing on the business you worked your entire life to create. That said, how you leave your inheritance just might become your legacy, so take great care.
The decisions you make regarding what to leave behind and to whom, and how to divide your assets between your family members, are crucial. The Wall Street Journal recently tackled this subject.
Do you split your assets evenly? To you divide them based on merit? Or on need? Do you think about the immediate generation or the grandchildren? What if there is no balance?
These are very real questions that only you can answer. Well… that’s not quite right. In reality, there will be many people in your family with opinions and answers to offer. The challenge is to plan as you see fit, and for the reasons that you value, but in doing so you may also want to make these considerations and reasons clear to your family.
When it comes to communicating your reasons for the how of your estate plan, you may consider capturing your wishes on video. On the other hand, and this is usually more helpful, consider having an open and ongoing dialogue with your family.
The choices you make and the inheritances you leave are very important, but what is often just as important is the meaning that is understood in how you leave them.
Reference: The Wall Street Journal (December 12, 2011) “Heiring Grievances”