Fri 19 Mar 2021

What’s love got to do with it?

Regardless of generation or age, family members will, to some degree, remain emotionally attached to their or their family’s wealth.

It is easy to dismiss the significance of emotional drivers for families when it comes to inheritance conversations and estate planning, but emotion will undoubtedly play its part in thought processes and decision making.

Understanding that all members of a family will live in an emotional landscape unique to them is of vital importance to families and to their advisers.

Many associate ‘love’ with ‘equality’ and this can present challenges when having difficult conversations with family around inheritance and estate planning. In particular, over how equally or unequally money is left. It may be more appropriate to leave your estate as you wish it as opposed to necessarily thinking that everything has to be equal. 

This could be for a number of reasons - perhaps one family member is more in need than another, or maybe someone has contributed to the growth of an asset and so should benefit more.  It could be a real worry if a beneficiary might squander the hard-earned inheritance you are leaving to them.  

The important question to ask yourself in this situation is what is it you are trying to achieve? Just asking that question can take a conversation from difficult to liberating.

It will lead to other illuminating questions, too, such as when do you want people to inherit?  Is it when they are financially responsible and have already got on with their own career; or might it be to help them get on the property ladder or starting their own business?  When will it be worth the most to people? Gifting during your lifetime means you get to see people enjoying it. 

The succession to a family's estate might look logical on paper but is useless in practice.  Of course, that’s where experienced, professional advisers come in. Emotions may make it hard to start a difficult conversation, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

As an adviser, at Morton Fraser we try and break it down. We find the balance between the law and what you really want for you and your family. 

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