With the baby boomer generation set to pass on a significant amount of wealth, discussing plans and goals with beneficiaries can give everyone a head start, as Anna Murdock explains
“Communication is something we as a nation have always been good at, but not when it comes to money”
In my 15 years of giving individuals advice on their wealth and financial wellbeing, one of the biggest issues I experience is the surprise, shock and disappointment that can come following a death in the family. The one piece of advice that I try to hammer home is to discuss your inheritance plans with your family; the last thing you want is to be embroiled in conflict at a time when you want to be left to grieve.
Communication is something we as a nation have always been good at, but not when it comes to airing our views or concerns about money. I believe that it’s a generational thing, as in my experience baby boomers often adopt the view that having a conversation with someone about wealth and money is definitely one of life’s taboos.
Many believe that leaving a will counts as communicating with one’s beneficiaries. I know that when imparting my advice on someone’s pension options, for example, it is far better to do so on a face-to-face basis. You learn so much more about someone’s reaction to your decision whether it be in their facial expressions or their verbal response; it is human nature to scan faces and look for reactions. Ask anyone in business. All (successful) CEOs will tell you, and their staff will tell you, your children, your spouse, everyone will tell you that communication is key. If you put communication into the books section of Amazon it will return over 70,000 results on self-help books, all teaching you to communicate better.
With a huge amount of wealth transfer on the horizon, my advice would be to discuss your requests and bequests and explain to your children, grandchildren and any other beneficiaries what your plans are. You may not be able to pay for a deposit for a house, or you may not want to, but either way it is not worth letting that be a disappointment once you have gone. As a wealth planner who advises on all aspects of individuals’ wealth, all the advice I give is on a personal basis. I strongly encourage families to learn more about each other’s individual attitudes to money and wealth and, if appropriate, set expectations for any inheritance while you still can.
Anna Murdock is Head of Wealth Planning at JM Finn jmfinn.com
Last Will and testament document with pen
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