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Don’t Give Your Kids Money

            “I don’t want to give them anything.”


            We were at that crucial moment in his estate plan, and Joe needed to decide how much he was going to leave his kids and grandkids.  When the question came up how much he wanted to leave them, he was firm in his resolve.  For the next 40 minutes, I heard all of his stories about how his kids had frittered away money, failed to listen to his advice, and only came to him for money.


            He was bitter, and wanted to cut them out of his estate entirely.  After some careful conversation, I challenged Joe.  I told him, “Joe, do you want this to be your last testimony to your kids—that you gave them nothing?”  With some grudging, Joe made the decision to make a small gift to them.


            While the bulk of his estate will go to fund Christian ministry, I can’t help but wonder what Joe would trade for a good relationship with his kids and grandkids.  Somewhere along the line something went awry.  Communication and trust had failed. 


            Ultimately, the decision to leave behind money to children is an easy one.  It’s the stroke of a pen and the deed is done.  But the magic is not in giving them money.  In fact, don’t give them money.  Do the hard work of intentionally building relationships, sharing stories and values.


            And when the question comes, “How much do you want to leave your children?” your response will simply be, “Why I’ve already left them everything.”

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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