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Originally published Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 8:01 PM

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Setting up a will to pass on ‘spiritual’ estate planning passes on values of departed

Those drawing up an estate plan first have to decide who is included among their kin, in this age of blended families and second or third marriages.

(South Florida) Sun Sentinel

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“Spiritual” estate planning — deciding how to pass down money based on values — is becoming a hot topic for baby boomers who want to make sure their values are passed along with their money, financial planners say.

Bequests to charities are up 19 percent in a year, according to Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that monitors charities. But it goes beyond leaving money to a favorite group, said South Florida attorney Alice Reiter Feld.

“It’s leaving money with a purpose,” she said.

That extends into deciding how to give money — or not — to family members, Feld said.

Those drawing up an estate plan first have to decide who is included among their kin, in this age of blended families and second or third marriages, Feld said.

“With all the kinds of families these days, there’s no simple answer,” Feld said.

A growing number of parents also are deciding not to give equal amounts to their surviving children, financial planners say. Rather, some feel morally responsible in caring for less well-off children, said Ben Tobias, a Plantation, Fla., financial planner.

If one of their children is wealthy, for example, some parents may decide they need to give more of an inheritance to an adult son or daughter who is less well off or who has a special-needs child, Tobias said.

“For whatever reason, they are opposed to doing it equally,” Tobias said.

Feld has seen the same trend, although she feels that children should be treated equally. If mothers or fathers are going to leave more money to one child, then they need to communicate that before they pass away, she said.

Parents especially “should sit down with a child who is going to be given less and explain the reasons,” Tobias said.

“Otherwise real problems may develop,” he said. “I’ve seen deep resentment develop.”

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