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Are Your Kids Prepared to Inherit Wealth?


Look, I get it, talking about money with your adult kids feels taboo. When they were young, you wanted them to feel taken care of, but it wasn’t important they understood what money conceptually meant to you, how much you had, or how you managed it 

But this goes without saying, your kids grow up. They become responsible, contributing adults with their own careers and their own money, and—not to get too morbid, but no one lives forever—they may someday be your heirs.  

Given this, ask yourselfwill my kids be prepared to inherit wealth? Are my kids capable of being good stewards of the wealth I spent my lifetime building?  

If you’ve been avoiding talking about wealth with your kids, chances are the answers will be no. And by wealth, I’m not referring just to basic financial literacy lessons about money. Wealth means your potential to create something of meaning and purpose.  

Where to Start

Maybe you’ve overlooked it, maybe it’s fear, or maybe talking about wealth feels too awkward. But more likely than not, you’ve been avoiding these conversations because you don’t know where to even begin.  

So, start by asking yourself these basic questionsnot all of which will have an easy, straightforward answer, but that’s the point of challenging yourself: 

1. How did I build my wealth?  Is there something in my personal history my kids should know that sheds light on the hard work it took to create my wealth? 

2. What does “wealth” mean to me personally? 

3. What is the intention for my wealth? What do I value? In other words, what do I believe is the most valuable way to use this wealth? Building family unityProviding a level of comfort? Education, either formal or informalCommunity service and charitable giving? Starting a business or retaining the family business? Growing assets? Faith? Travel and experiential opportunities? 

4. If I was talking to my kids five years from today, what has to have happened over those five years for me to feel happy with my kids’ views towards wealth? 

Once you have even the beginnings of answers to these questions, share them with your kids. Because the only way anyone knows if they’re going in the right direction is if they know their destination. And in answering these questions, you’re helping your kids understand the destination—or the purposefor your wealth.  

Keep Talking

Talking about wealth should be an ongoing conversation, both as your children grow and as your own thoughts and intentions evolve. Sure, you can have good discussions with your teenagers about how to responsibly manage money, but conversations about wealth take on so much more significance as your kids progress through their 20s and 30s. Their own experiences in the workforce and life will create nuance, and what was once a one-way conversation becomes two-way as they develop their own thoughts on the meaning of wealth.  

So, make conversations about wealth an undercurrent to your relationship with your children regardless of their age. Successfully passing down wealth, large or small, requires preparation.  

Trust me, when the time comes, your kids will be grateful you talked with them about wealth. It’s a conversation that will only return dividends, both as your kids responsibly manage their inheritance and as they pass the lessons on to future generations.

To learn more about passing down wealth, I recommend starting with these two books and giving us a call:

Bridging Generations: Transitioning Family Wealth & Values for a Sustainable Legacy by Roy O. Williams and Amy A. Castro

Legacy by Richard J. Orlando, Ph.D.


Jessica L. photo

Jessica L. Gibbs, CFP®

Vice President & Partner

Jessica was inspired by a podcast to become a financial planner. At the time, she was working at the Brookings Institution as part of their fundraising team. Even though she enjoyed working with individuals on their philanthropic giving, Jessica decided that wealth management was a better way to build the type of long-term, advice-driven relationships she values. After completing Georgetown University’s Certificate in Financial Planning program....

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