If you are expecting an outright inheritance, you may need to think again.

Expecting a sizeable inheritance? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Good (and recent) financial decisions.

Parents like to see a pattern of good financial decisions, even if you’ve crashed and burned in the past. Regardless, many parents are happy cut you a break if they see recent improvement. “It might take creditors seven years to forgive your bankruptcy, but it will only take parents a fraction of this time if they see personal growth,” the Forbes article notes.

Financial self-awareness.

It’s true-everyone loves a good comeback story. It’s okay to make mistakes, as bad decisions make for important life lessons. Forbes says the key, if you want any kind of inheritance, is that you MUST actually learn. Making the same mistakes over and over and over, only shows you have poor judgment, and worse yet, you aren’t able to learn.

Responsible use of debt.

The article points out that some wealthy families leverage debt to their benefit-you can have some debt, but it should be debt used to produce a higher long-term return, such as a student loan debt-not a $30,000 balance on a credit card debt or a five-year Lamborghini car loan. Those are not evidence of using debt wisely. How can they see that you’re responsible with money if you continue to rack up lots of debt on silly purchases?


Parents are pleased when they see a child with some drive and energy. They’re looking for signs that you want to make an impact with your life. The Forbes article quotes Warren Buffett, who said the perfect amount of money to leave children is “enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.”

Life planning.

If you’re young, have a plan and talk to your parents about your future and your dreams. Parents worry that their children have no compass or plan for their life. They fear that sudden wealth will only further befuddle and stall any drive their children have. Show them that you have a plan with or without the inheritance.

Take an interest in finances.

You don’t need an MBA or experience on Wall Street, but an interest in personal finance helps illustrate your understanding and appreciation of the responsibility that comes with wealth, “The more comfortable you are with managing money the more comfortable your parents will be leaving you money to manage,” the article explains.

The concern of parents leaving large inheritances to their children is very real and a growing trend. There are too many stories of rich kids getting into trouble because they have nothing to do but spend money. Money attracts the wrong crowd and the wrong behaviors.

Be smart with your money now and discuss your situation and the plans you have for your children with an estate planning attorney. He or she will be able to create an effective estate plan for you now and to modify it later if the kids appear unable to properly handle an inheritance.

***Kids: here’s a way to show your interest and acumen with money: create an estate plan now, and modify it if and when you receive that inheritance!

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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