What do you owe the next generation?
Short answer: Nothing!
Better answer: It depends on you, your values, your assets, and the circumstances of those in the next generation.
Many of our clients feel that while leaving an inheritance to their children or grandchildren might be nice, they feel no sense of obligation to do so. Others feel it is their responsibility to leave at least some of their assets to the next generation as a "leg up" in the world.
It is important that you understand you are under no legal obligation to leave anything to anyone. From a legal perspective, you have the right to spend every penny you have or give it all away or lose it on a single bet in Vegas or leave it all to your cat. If your children inherit nothing when you die, you've committed no crime.
That being said, many people feel a moral, or at least a personal, duty to preserve their assets for as long as possible, even over the lifetimes of their children and grandchildren. They want to minimize taxes, preserve principal, protect real estate, and even make sure whatever inheritance they leave is not exposed to their children's divorces or creditors or lawsuits.
Early on in our counseling with a new client, we try to identify where on this spectrum they fit. Each client's values and hope, along with their sense of "duty" to provide for future generations, is critical in developing a unique plan perfectly suited to their wants and needs.
How you answer this question - What do you owe future generations? - determines what type of estate planning you need. It influences not only the types of legal documents you need, such as trusts or wills or deeds that transfer property upon death, but also the content of those documents, as not all trusts or wills or deeds are the same.
Here's the stuff we always put at the end:
If you want to know more, we would love to talk with you about it. Best part, the conversation about how it could benefit you doesn't cost anything. Call us at (918) 770-8940 (in the Tulsa area) or (405) 358-3848 (in the OKC area) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free consultation.
Disclaimer: Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship, and it is not formal legal advice. This is for information purposes only. It is always best to speak with an attorney about your questions, assets, concerns, and needs.