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Money: Should Dad tell all?

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

I mentioned to my husband that in honor of Father's Day, I was writing a blog about a financial firm's suggestion that parents involve their grown children in their estate planning.

"You mean, tell them how much money you have and how much you might leave them?"


"No way," my husband said flatly. "It's none of their business."

A survey by Boston-based MFS Investment Management says that my husband is not alone in holding firmly to this opinion. Only 14 percent told MFS that they might be interested in a multigeneration family wealth and retirement planning session.

But MFS also found a big disconnect between how boomers feel about leaving money behind when they die -- less than half don't think it is important to leave an inheritance -- and the 75 percent of people 30 and younger who say they expect to rely on an inheritance to pay for their retirements.

"If you don't think your kids will get an inheritance, you ought to at least tell them them that," says Doug Orton, a financial adviser and vice president of business development for MFS.

You don't have to talk about specific dollars. It's probably enough to say: "Just so you know, there is a good chance that we'll use all of our assets while we are alive," Orton says. "But give the kids a realistic vision."

He also thinks that family or vacation homes can be a divisive issue for adult children after their parents die. He believes parents should discuss in advance with all of their children what each would like to see done with these properties. Then parents should set up an arrangement in advance to make that happen smoothly. Otherwise, "Inheriting things like vacation property with siblings never turns out well," Orton says.

He also contends that parents shouldn't feel obligated to divvy up the money absolutely equally, nor should they neglect to protect their offspring who need the most help managing their finances. "Spendthrift trusts are a great solution. You might never have liked the guy she married. In that case, a spendthrift trust controls the money, giving you a say in how they can take it and what they use it for."

Dad retains control -- even from the grave.

Happy Father's Day.

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1 Comment
December 07, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I disagree 100% when the author says to you don't have to leave money equally to all children. My mother left money unequally to three children and it caused nothing but hurt and resentment. Split it with charity if you wish but what ever you leave your children, leave them equal amounts or shares!