Estate planning can be surprisingly emotional. The largest-ever generational wealth transfer is here: more than $68 trillion is flowing from baby boomers to their adult children. MarketWatch’s recent article entitled “When it comes to estate planning ‘you have to get to the core emotional issues’” says financial advisers and estate planning attorneys have helped their aging clients shift from wealth accumulation to wealth preservation. The next challenge is legacy planning—and that creates a number of issues.
A significant component of legacy planning is trying to get different generations of a family to accept the patriarch and matriarch’s wishes. If the millennials—the adult kids—can accept their parents’ inheritance plan, there’s less chance for disputes when the money is transferred.
Emotions tend to run high when families address issues tied to cross-generational wealth. Retirees will often ask their financial adviser or estate planning attorney to serve as a buffer to deal with the younger generations. As the children ask for information about their parents’ assets, this professional becomes the point person.
People tend to act based on emotions, not intellectual reasons, which can lead to conflict. Therefore, you have to get to the core emotional issues, not just logical arguments when facilitating wealth transfer within families, experts say.
If the family has major dysfunction, bringing in another professional, like a therapist, is usually a good first step to get everybody to the point they can have a polite conversation.
In most cases, however, it’s not that serious. Advisers may confront and negotiate petty squabbles and field calls from family members with clashing interests. Meetings can be concluded by asking permission to share what they’ve said with other family members.
Advisers typically set ground rules when helping families work through intergenerational strife. For example, they might ask everyone to listen for understanding, rather than agreement. That means paraphrasing or asking clarifying questions to confirm they understood what they heard before they rush to make their point. It’s good to caution family members to temper their expectations.
Reference: MarketWatch (Dec. 24, 2022) “When it comes to estate planning ‘you have to get to the core emotional issues’”