Many adult children tell me:
“My parents desperately need to do some estate planning. However, because we’ve never talked much about financial matters in our family, I don’t know how to urge them to take action.”
I have heard this sentiment often. So frequently, I want to take this opportunity to speak to older moms and dads on behalf of their adult children.
Obviously, not every detail that follows will apply to every family situation, but these are the common feelings, hopes, and concerns I hear most often.
There are some things I’ve been wanting to say to you, but I never know when or how to bring them up. So, let me try here and now. I’ll keep this brief. Please try to hear the heart behind my words.
The three things I most want to say are:
You’ve worked so hard—and smart—for so many years. And today, the product of your faithful efforts is a thriving business, or a beautiful farm, or a respected practice that has served the community.
You’ve taken risks—and had some setbacks and failures. Along the way, you’ve also experienced good fortune. In short, you got to where you are by a combination of wise planning, hard work, guts…and grace.
Bottom-line, I’m so proud to be your child!
- “Thank you!”
Most parents don’t hear those words often enough. I can’t speak for all the other kids, but sometimes it was your quiet humility that made me think that maybe I shouldn’t make a big deal about your sacrifice—and generosity.
Well, let me say here and now that I AM deeply grateful for all you’ve done and I DO appreciate all the ways you have so graciously provided for our family.
The third and final thing I want to say is…
- “It’s time.”
This is the toughest one. It comes with so many emotions. I hardly know where to start.
What do I mean, “It’s time”? Time for what?
Just this: time to begin talking, planning, and taking the actions necessary to make sure the fruit of your life’s work isn’t squandered or lost at your death.
I’ve heard it said that a financial life has three distinct phases: wealth creation, wealth distribution, and wealth conservation.
Obviously, you did the wealth creation stage extremely well. And now you are in the wealth distribution stage, in which you get to enjoy the fruits of your life’s labor.
But, as the preacher likes to remind us, you can’t take it with you. So, the wealth conservation stage offers you an opportunity to make some of the most significant financial choices of your life.
Your primary decision—and the one I want to urge you toward today—is simply the decision to engage in this process.
I am asking you to summon the same courage you found when you were starting out—along with that same stubborn resilience that motivated you to roll up your sleeves and turn your dreams into realities.
Do that again.
Secure the services of a financial planner, a CPA, or an attorney experienced in this process. Tell them exactly what you want to happen when you are gone. Face the reality of what estate tax or other transfer costs may occur at that time.
Then craft a plan to assure your life’s work will outlive you.
Mom, Dad, I’ve lived long enough to know there will likely be two results when you take this step: You will have an immeasurable sense of peace. And I will be immensely relieved and grateful.
Here’s to your legacy living on into future generations.
You probably have other questions about retirement. Make sure you ask all the right ones. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you my free list of “30-Something Questions for People Who are 60-Something.”
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