Inherited Wealth -- The million-dollar topic no one talks about

Inherited wealth sounds like a wonderful thing at first glance, and it is -- most people would rather have it than not! But few people acknowledge the emotional baggage that comes with family money. Discussing your inherited wealth is the million-dollar topic most folks are happy to avoid.

If you are part of a family with inherited wealth, you may have no idea how much you stand to inherit. What will be left by the time the money comes to you?

In truth, your parents may not know how to answer that question. Family money is not kept under the mattress. It lives in the stock market where one third of the family’s assets can disappear during a stock market free fall. End of life care cost can be astronomical depending on health issues and special needs. And there are the perils of Bernie Madoff style investors and other forms of financial mismanagement.

Some clients find themselves in mixed class relationships or may come from a family where one side had money and the other had much less. A common result we see is that the topic of how much money is in the family becomes taboo. This includes family members pretending the wealth isn’t there. The topic of family access to money never gets discussed with friends or any people outside of the family.

My clients often discover that estate planning is a great way to initiate meaningful conversations on this topic. Clients have invited me to support them in establishing best practices for constructive family dialogue: Where did the wealth come from? What is the legacy of money, good and bad, in your family? Who manages it now? In what way will it be passed to the next generation? If there are children in the family, we touch on estate planning strategies that can communicate your values about money to the next generation.

You can start your estate plan with the information you have in-hand today and my clients have found great value in that work. An estate plan communicates values and financial transparency produces lasting, positive outcomes for both self and family.

Michael Geoghegan