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Avoid Springing Inheritance Surprises

Daryll Pomey Orat - Monday, August 04, 2014

Every family has its secrets, but inheritance and your plans for the distribution of your estate after you are gone, should not be one of them. Unfortunately, far too many families fail to discuss their asset distribution plans with their children, leading to nasty surprises, resentment, and even conflict.

In a recent study conducted by UBS Wealth Management Americas, researchers found that about $40 trillion in assets are expected to be transferred from wealthy Americans to their heirs over the next three decades. Yet, very few of these families had actually bothered to discuss their inheritance plans with their children.

Typically, parents wait until the last minute, to discuss their inheritance plans with their heirs. If inheritance hasn’t been discussed frankly, there may be nasty surprises for children who may feel they have been blindsided by their parents’ plans. That naturally leads to resentment, because one sibling may believe that he has been unfairly treated, compared to the rest.

One of the mistakes that parents make is to assume that their children will be happy with the distribution plans. Don't second guess your children, and assume that they will be happy with the way you have chosen to distribute your assets. Often, children may have a desire for one particular asset, and unless you know their thoughts on these matters, you will not be able to avoid sibling resentments or disputes.

Most families simply don't consider conversations about inheritance to be very urgent. After all, they're not going to be around to see their heirs fight it out. However, the time to have these conversations is not when you are ill, weak or partially incapacitated, but when you are alive, well and healthy. Talk to your heirs about your estate plans to smoothen the process of transfer of assets after you’re gone.

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