Tips for talking to your children about your legacy

Thinking about your legacy and the gifts you want to leave to your children can happen long before you want anything to change. It can start the day your child is born, or you decide to open a new business. 

Eventually, you will likely want to do more than think about your plans. You want to put them in writing and help your children know what to expect. Whether you plan to pass on money, business ownership or other valuable assets, consider the following tips for talking to your children about these plans.

Keep it age-appropriate

Discussions about your legacy can be emotional and overwhelming. You can make these conversations easier to understand by keeping them age-appropriate.

Save complicated, detailed financial matters for when your children are older teenagers or young adults. Until then, you might focus on sharing your values and beliefs regarding business operations, charitable giving and money management.

Help them prepare

Whether your children will receive a sizable inheritance, take over the family business or administer your estate, they can benefit from preparation. 

For example, consider having them complete some financial management education courses. For business succession, you might have them work alongside you for a while getting to know a business. And you can also connect them to your legal and financial advisors, so they know where to go if they run into issues when you are gone.

Give them a roadmap

When talking to your children about your legacy and their future, giving them a roadmap to refer to can be helpful. This guide could include your will, a business succession plan or trust documents.

Putting your wishes and plans into writing provides a concrete way of supporting your kids now and after you are gone.

Remember it’s a two-way conversation

As much as you want to share your plans with your child, it is just as important to listen to their questions, concerns and vision. If you run into disagreements or conflicts between their goals and your plans, addressing them now can help make things easier for everyone in the long run.

If you have children, they will be affected by events like your retirement or passing. Discussing your legacy sooner rather than later can help them – and you – prepare.