Ask Terry Questions leaving $ to your children

leaving $ to your children

By Terry Savage on February 26, 2018 | Financial Planning / Retirement

What is your perspective about leaving $ to your children when there is a significant difference in their earning potential? 1 son is single and a school teacher in a rural school district, passionately committed to teaching & loves his career. 1 son is in a much more lucrative career in tech and married to a doctor (who is the only child of 2 doctors & thus stands to inherit plenty of $). Would leaving different % of your IRA to the kids be a way to do this? Other ideas or should we differentiate according to earning potential? Both are good savers and fiscally responsible. Thanks!!

Terry Says

  Gosh, this is a tough question that is hotly debated in the financial planning profession -- mainly because it is not a financial question; it is an emotional one.  (Since I have only one son, I can personally duck this issue!)  But here are my thoughts:  I think it is unfair to penalize success -- even if it comes by way of marriage.  Your estate plan is not about "need" (which might not be the case if one were handicapped and needed your lasting support).   And it isn't even about demonstrating that you love them both equally.  It is about fairness!  And to be fair is to divide your estate 50/50. A couple of additional thoughts.  First, if you have raised them well, I hope you will be able to count on the wealthier family to help the less fortunate family.  (It's worked that way in my family, with my two brothers.) Second, you don't mention grandchildren -- but if you have them, you could open 529 college savings plans for each child -- equally-- even though one family may have more children.  That's being fair. And finally, and assuming you know you will have "excess" money at the end, you might want to start making equal annual gifts -- so the end result isn't about one big hunk of money. WAIT -- actually this is my "final " thought:  You should tell your sons what you plan right now -- well in advance.  You don'thave to give them dollar amounts, but you show your respect for them by letting them know how things will work in the future.

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