How To Ask Your Parents About Your Inheritance
There are awkward money questions, and then there's asking your parents about their posthumous financial plans. Talk about a tricky opener. Still, for many of us, the conversation is as uncomfortable as it is necessary.
According to a recent Charles Schwab survey, 53 percent of millennials believe are betting on an inheritance as part of their retirement plans. However, the same survey found that only one in five people actually receive an inheritance from their parents as expected. Grasping the reality of what to expect is one of many reasons to bite the bullet and address this sensitive financial issue. For some, gaining clarity is a way to better understand a parent's wishes, or prevent confusion down the road. For others, it might be more about present needs rather than future planning.
Whatever the reason, the important thing to remember is that your questions are just as important as their answers. So do yourself a favor and consider the following advice, courtesy of both financial and etiquette experts, before you broach the conversation.
How to Start the Talk
When approaching your folks, it's important to lay the groundwork so they have some time to consider how much they're comfortable sharing. "A good way to start this conversation is to reference a resource, such as a book or an article you read about the importance of estate planning," writes GoBankingRates's Cameron Huddleston. "You could share what you've learned or offer to let them read the resource themselves."
Another approach is to be more direct without catching them too off-guard. Suggest setting up a time to talk about the 'I' word and let your folks decide when and where to have the conversation. If they ask why you're broaching the subject, your best bet is to answer with a measure of practicality.
"My clients often say, 'My financial planner has been asking me this question, and I thought it would be relevant to you, too,'" certified financial planner and Brunch&Budget founder Pam Capalad tells TheWeek. If that's not an option, Huddleston suggests telling them you're looking into your own estate planning and wondering if they've done the same. This opens the door to a larger conversation without putting them too much on the spot.
Make Sure You're Not Creating Disharmony Within the Family
One concern your folks may have is betraying your siblings by only discussing the matter with you. "Do some one-on-one talks first, perhaps among siblings, or the parents with each child," Peggy Post, director of the Emily Post Institute, tells AARP. "But it's also good to get everyone together whenever possible, to make sure everything's out on the table and everyone is on the same wavelength. Even if families don't live close to each other, you can do a video (phone) call on FaceTime or Skype, or at the very least do a conference phone call. It's really good to talk individually and as a group."
The Questions to Consider
You might want to start with a broad ask: "Do you have an estate plan?" If they say yes, you might ask about how it works, rather than digging into the exact numbers. Another question you might ask is: "Are there any documents or resources I should know about in case of an emergency?" Specifically, ask about whether or not your parents have created a will, healthcare directive or power of attorney document that you might need to access, worst case scenario. If you really want to get in depth without touching too much on the actual numbers, check out this "inheritance checklist" containing a list of documents you may need to access one day. When asking your parents about such specifics, make sure you explain that you're just looking to protect their wishes first and foremost.
If You're Asking For an An Advance
It may seem like a long shot, but according to a recent Merrill Lynch retirement study, 77% of retirees now say it's better to pass on inheritances while still alive. Of course this all depends on your parents' financial situation as well as how you plan to use the money. Perhaps you're starting a business, looking to purchase a home, or helping to pay for college for a child of your own. Make sure the money you're asking for is intended to be used soundly and in a way that makes your parents feel secure and satisfied. While your parents might be happy to gift you with a portion of your inheritance, don't guilt them into it. "If you are sure that they are still competent to make this decision and can afford it, ask for a loan," suggests Philip Galanes of the New York Times' Social Qs column. "Let them decide whether to make it a gift." You should also consider asking for a small portion, rather than the entire sum—and if you have siblings, make sure you put any agreement writing so your parents don't have worry about potential disputes in the future. Remember, this isn't just about your needs but theirs as well.
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Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
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