family legacyThe article Heiring Grievances was posted by Ruth Mantell on December 12 on the online edition of The Wall Street Journal. It encourages parents with multiple heirs to think about the emotional legacy they will leave behind when making decisions about inheritances. It notes two key considerations during the planning process – how parents want to be remembered and how their decisions will affect relationships between the family members.

The article also highlights three pieces of advice in the decision making process. First, parents should consider that their heirs’ conditions may change over time. For example, one heir may have more children, while another may experience health problems. Second, clear communication of one’s wishes goes a long way in explaining the reasons behind the division of the estate and can spare the family a lot of grief, whether parents chose to treat kids differently or not. One such example is that of a father who intended for all his children to receive equal shares when his will was drawn up. Upon his death, however, the value of the assets had changed such that one wound up with substantially more assets than the other. Since their father made his wishes clear, the siblings were able to resolve the matter among themselves. Lastly, the article concludes by stressing that the parents’ wishes for their legacies are of top importance and should be considered before that of their children’s expectations.

Certainly there is no “one size fits all” approach for every family, but with careful thought, planning, and communication, parents may yet leave a legacy of a family that is harmonious, loving, and well-provided for.

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