Serendipity happened in my life today: I have been planning to write a blog post alerting readers not to wait to order the booklet Passing Wealth Along to Our Children: Emotional Complexities of Estate Planning, from The Inheritance Project. And lo and behold, a thoughtful and helpful article appeared in today’s Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper) entitled “Baa baa black sheep, are you in the will?” The article, which I am unable to link because it is not included in the online edition, addresses the awkward issue of whether to give equal inheritances (equal both in amounts given as well as conditions). The core of the issue is whether to include “black-sheep” offspring in a will, or cut them out, or give them less, with strict conditions? There is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer to the “fair vs. equal” question that clients have been asking their estate lawyers since the beginnings of time. However, Passing Wealth Along … takes a balanced approach to this, most difficult of estate-planning questions. Margaret Kiersted, the author, makes this point:
“Control, or lack of it, is one of the central issues for many parents in creating their estate plans. On the one hand, they want to help their children by leaving them money. On the other hand, they fear that their largesse could be misused, the wealth could be squandered, and their children could become people of whom they would disapprove. … [However,] relinquishing control is the main theme of parenthood. As their children get older, parents are forced to let go.”
In case you are thinking about ordering this oh so useful booklet, better to act now than put off your decision. The booklet will not be reprinted, so please do not hesitate.