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Addressing the Topic of Inheritance with Your Family

[fa icon="clock-o"] Jun 5, 2019 9:00:00 AM [fa icon="user"] The MacMillan Estate Planning Team [fa icon="folder-open'] inheritance, family inheritance

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Many aspects of estate planning can be tricky to talk about with family members. The sensitive nature of inheritance is especially worth contemplating, as it concerns both family finances and the mortality of yourself or a loved one. Here are a few tips that can make it easier to approach.

Build a Strong Foundation

Thinking ahead is crucial for having successful conversations about inheritance with your loved ones, particularly in the case of children and grandchildren. It’s important to build a foundation of healthy communication and financial responsibility on a broader and more long-term scale so that these dynamics can trickle down into the inevitable discussions surrounding property, wealth, death, and other tough topics. As children get older, gradually introduce these subjects into family discourse and continue to foster knowledgeability and prudence. This will better prepare them for inheritance, and prevent it from becoming a taboo topic.

Be Honest, Clear, and Consistent

Upon establishing a foundation of communication, you must also follow through on it with honesty, clarity, and consistency. When your loved ones are ready and the timing of the conversation is right, be upfront about your wishes and your rationale, leave as little room for ambiguity as possible, and avoid confusing different family members with conflicting intent or fluctuations in your decision-making. These steps are fundamental if you want to minimize the chances of a dispute or even litigation. Additionally, what you establish in conversation should ultimately be consistent with your estate documentation, as this will avoid problematic surprises.

Keep Individual Factors In Mind

Inheritance and estate planning can be highly complex in their planning and execution. Therefore, it’s essential for you to maintain as detailed a sense of the individual circumstances and traits that shape your loved ones as recipients of your wealth. Distributing everything in equal numbers is not necessarily the best approach. You may have a child with special needs, a child who is more financially savvy than the others, or a loved one who has invested money and labour into renovating the family cottage and may therefore be more entitled to it. Address these factors in both one-on-one and group discussions so that your decisions are reached effectively.

The scope of estate planning extends beyond simple dollars and cents. To help with matters as complex as inheritance, a family office must show sensitivity, open communication, and the ability to truly listen. It’s our promise to offer you nothing less. Contact us to get started today.


At MacMillan Estate Planning, our team of professional trust and estate practitioners, chartered accountants, financial planners, and legal professionals look forward to assisting you with the design of your estate plan and will ensure you build, protect, and enjoy your wealth. The information provided is general and may not be suited to your objectives or sufficient to ensure the protection of you and your family. You should not act on this information without providing MacMillan Estate Planning with the opportunity to ensure that it is suitable for your unique situation.


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