I bet you’ve heard someone say that or read it in the press. Every once in a while some famous person either becomes disgusted or doesn’t want to leave too much to their children. It’s becoming part of the conversation that we’re having in this country.
You’ve heard Bill Gates and Warren Buffet say this.
This conversation often starts with the likes of the mega-wealthy. Yes, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have decided to leave the vast majority of their wealth to charity. When you look under the cover you notice two things. First, their children have not been disinherited. Second, they’ve put very sophisticated measurements in place to make sure their charitable dollars are used well.
If you’re like most people in this country, you don’t have their wealth. You might want to be a little more mindful of your decisions and the effect it’ll have on your family.
Before you make this decision talk with your family.
Most of us want to be remembered well by our family. Too many people won’t talk about their wealth. They make decisions about what’s going to happen to their money in vacuum. For too many their attitude is it’s my money and I get to decide what I’m going to do with it.
When I hear a comment like the one above it always reminds me of an infant throwing a fit. I don’t think you want to be seen as that type of person. Do yourself a favor. Have a conversation with your family about how much you have. Then have a conversation about what you think you would like to do with it. Ask for input from those you love. They’ll feel much better about you after you die.
Don’t make idle threats.
We all get frustrated with family members. Words have meaning and words can hurt. You don’t want to make idle threats. You probably really don’t want to give all of your money to charity. If you don’t, then don’t make the mistake of saying that’s what you want to do.
Charity might be part of your plan. It probably should be part of your plan. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money and it doesn’t have to hurt. If you’ve developed some assets have a conversation with your family about how to evaluate charities and which causes should the family support.
I know we like to think we made it all on our own. We didn’t. I’ve had lots of help along the way and I’m sure you did also. Since we had help on achieving our success shouldn’t we ask for help from those who made it easier for us, meaning our family?
Where does it say charities handle money well?
For some reason many wealth holders think charities handle their money well. My experience has been the opposite. I’ve found that many charities are poor money managers. They don’t measure their outcomes and in some cases don’t even care what their outcomes are.
If you decide to put charities before your family you likely are not going to be remembered well. The charities might not even remember you. Think about how your assets can best serve society. Talk about this with those who count. You’ll probably make a better decision.
In the end be thoughtful.
It really isn’t that hard to be thoughtful. It does take time and it does require you to listen. I know I make much better decisions when I include my family in my decision-making. This will likely be true for you.
Before leaving it all to charity, stop, take a breath, OK several breaths, and then talk about it with those you love. You’ll be glad you did.
The entire conversation about what to leave to who is part of the estate planning process. We have a special report on basic estate planning issues we would like you to have. To get a copy of this report, click on the button below.