Author: Alex Cook| Wealth With Purpose
How can Christians address some of these issues?
Set Expectations – Have the conversations with your children about your estate plans and your reasons for those decisions. How they respond will give you an indication of their attitudes towards money and their likely stewardship of those funds. It is also an opportunity to ensure they are clear on your Christian worldview and what is important to you (hopefully they know this already).
“An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.”
Know your kids hearts – You should talk to your kids regularly about money as they grow up. It should be a natural and valuable part of family discussions. Talk to them about your plans, your values and the legacy you want to leave behind. Giving your kids significant sums of money without understanding what drives them is likely to lead to this:
“Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living”
Never leave nothing – it may be tempting for some people who have poor relations with their children or who regard their children as irresponsible to leave them nothing. This is almost always a mistake. More than likely it will lead to legal issues and can result in family infighting.
Change your will over time – as your circumstances change, so should your will. The directions of a will at age 30 are likely to be very different to the directions of a will at age 70.
Your own parents – ensure your own parents have the proper arrangements in place, especially a Power of Attorney that may be needed in order to help them out in old age.
Don’t interfere with your children’s marriage – money can have a profound impact on relationships. As a Christian parent you want to teach your kids sound money values before they leave school, let alone before they get married. However you should never give or lend them money in such a way that it impacts on the ‘two shall become one’ nature of their marriage.
Treat inheritance as “ours” not either “his” or “hers” – Inheritances received as the result of one spouse’s parents passing away should be treated as the couple’s money (really God’s money) rather than ‘his’ or ‘hers’ inheritance.
Review it regularly – circumstances change, people change, life happens. Review your will regularly and when major changes occur.
Dealing with the Kids
Handy Tip: Entrust some of your money whilst you’re still alive and see what it does to them. This will give you a clue as to how they may handle it when you’ve passed and to give you an idea as to their level of spiritual and financial maturity.
Food for thought: If we love our kids equally, does that mean we automatically treat them all equally? What if one has special needs? What if they are unbelievers – how will they handle God’s money?
We often fall into the trap of believing our kids need our money. In reality, regardless of our financial means, what our kids really need is Jesus Christ as their Lord, their Saviour, their Provider and the wisdom that comes from knowing and applying God’s word. Your kids need to know what it really means to be intimate with the creator of the universe and to trust him for their provision. In Eternity, this is something they will thank you for, more than any money they could ever receive from you. Let this inspire you:
“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come”