To talk about your family’s inheritance planning is to talk about your will.
All the James Bond Films
In over 30 years, there are few family structures and circumstances I have not encountered. Wealth levels have ranged from about £500,000 on the one hand to £9.5 million on the other. I’ve seen them all. As I wrote on page one of my book Maximum Inheritance, ‘Whether you’re a private in the army or the mother of a future king of England, the principles are the same.’ My joy is that I’m able to help families of every shape and size. There’s almost no one I can’t help. As someone who’s seen all the James Bond films, I know one should never say never, but I’m yet to meet someone I couldn’t help.
Purity of Intent
In writing Maximum Inheritance, I spoke to over 400 of my clients and studied 500 inheritance disputes. So large a sample as this provides me with great confidence of the certainty of which I speak. It made me able to reach a clear and unqualified conclusion, with no ums or ems, no ifs or buts. I concluded that the sooner one starts to plan, the sooner the plans are in place, the better off one’s family will be.
Most important, this is a truth that must be told. Few matters are of greater importance.
You must not for fear of being regarded mercenary, fail to address this subject.
Benefit of Doubt
The purity of intent must be apparent. Let’s assume your motives are chaste. Paucity of cleanliness of motive leads us down paths of trouble and incomprehension the sort of which could have come from a Kafka novel. My mum always said no end of ill will came from failing to grant one’s fellows the benefit of the doubt. So, I’ll grant your animus is like snow that’s just fallen – of utmost purity.
You know that saying, that every generation thinks they’re the first? My parents referred to themselves as the sandwich generation.
They felt they were the first generation to look after their children on the one hand and care for their parents on the other. I recall overhearing one such conversation when I was nine.
Should you imagine yours is the first sandwich generation, or the first group to parent boomerang children, be certain yours isn’t. My parents, aunts and uncles weren’t the pioneers of their imagination.
The Talk About Your Will
In these days of social media, the urgency is even greater than it ever was in my day. In my earlier years, around puberty, there was The Talk: a coy, cowardly, and ugly phrase for sex education.
My mum, a lady of no little frankness or sophistication talked to me about the birds and the bees. There were several conversations – not unlike discussions on any other subject. I’m told however that the The Talk tends to be handled with ineptitude, and is pregnant with the potential for embarrassment, bafflement and incomprehension. Thus, I’m informed that many delay it if possible.
They put it off for so long that it’s too late. You know as I do, that several children learn about sex from unreliable sources. Learning such fundamentals of being human from such fallible, shifty and sometimes criminal sources of information could be the foundation for harms too many to discuss or even merely list here. I will merely observe that such harms could be permanent and could last several generations.
The talk about your will: don’t put it off till it’s too late.
The Facts of Life
What has mating to do with money?
There should be conversations about cash.
I assume your purity of intent. Putting off the discussions could lead to ills.
Ills permanent. Ills lasting several generations.
For those who have the pleasure of the company of parents or elderly relatives from whom there is a possibility of an inheritance, when do you plan to have the talk?
As my mother always said: ‘Procrastination is the thief of wealth.’
I’ve helped lots of families start and resolve the conversation. We’ll start the talk about your will, it’ll preserve your family’s legacy.