Weighing the Pros and Cons of Giving Your Children Their Inheritance Early

March 22, 2019
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They say timing is everything. The best time to distribute an inheritance might be right now.

If you've accumulated substantial wealth over your lifetime, you've likely thought about how to distribute it to your children after you pass away. You may even have thought about giving some of it to them early. Here are some pros and cons.

Helping when it's needed. Young adult children face many challenges, including repaying student loans, buying a home, or starting a business. A timely gift from you can make a huge difference in your children's lives when they need it most. If you're worried about spendthrift children or those with special needs, you can establish an appropriate trust fund and oversee its management to ensure your instructions are followed properly.

Giving early can reduce estate taxes. A posthumous bequest to your children goes through a lengthy court proceeding know as probate, and your money might be subject to estate taxes that reduce your children's inheritance. By giving early, you reduce the size of your estate and avoid probate proceedings. This can save your family taxes and prevent possible court challenges to your bequests.

You may outlive your expectations. People are living longer today. After you retire, you might need to tap your savings and investments for 30 years or longer. You certainly don't want to outlive your money and then depend on your children for help. Therefore, you need to carefully evaluate how much money to keep for your later years before gifting an early inheritance to your children.

Early giving can create family drama. If you have more than one child, will early giving spur bad feelings? For example, you might want to give each child an equal share, but if their needs are unequal, those less well-off might resent "unneeded" money going to their wealthier siblings. Even more conflict might ensue if you don't give equal allotments, or even cut one or more children out completely.

The first step is knowing how much you can comfortably afford to give. Can you count on a comfortable retirement even if you make early gifts? Call or email us today for a complete review of your wealth preservation and estate plans. Together, we can review how and when to distribute your wealth for maximum benefit and managed risk.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

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