When you are setting up your estate plan, you probably wonder: how much money should I leave my children? What is too much or too little? What if they don’t end up using it wisely, or become dependent on their inheritance and decide to stop working?

Every financial advisor has their own advice about the amount of assets to leave to your children. Below are several common options—discuss these with your financial advisor and estate planning attorney to determine which will work best for your unique situation:

Advice #1: Leave enough to help them get through college without loans, plus a little extra money for rent after they graduate. This strategy gets your kids out of college without debt, and gives them a little cushion to survive…but then they must find a way to figure out financial security on their own.

Advice #2: Give your children some money for the first few years, right after they leave the house—just to see how they spend it. You can gift your children up to $14,000/year without being taxed. This way, you can put your children to the test: do they blow the money on travel? Do they save it? Do they invest? Once you learn their spending habits, you can figure out how much to leave them in your estate plan.

Advice #3: Put most of the money in a trust. If you want to make sure your children use their inheritance wisely, you can open a trust. You can distribute assets into the trust a little at a time, and let it grow as the kids get older. This way, your children will have time to get better at making financial decisions as they get older and more mature.

Advice #4: Leave half of your estate to your kids, and half to charity, letting your children decide which charity to donate the money to.

Advice #5: Leave them as much money as you prepare them for. This really puts the emphasis on what is important—which is not the amount of money, but rather the readiness of your children to receive that money. For instance, in matters of trusts, foundations and LLCs, your children need to know how these financial situations work before they inherit these assets. Educate them before giving them the responsibility.

The most important piece of advice that all financial advisors agree on is to communicate why you are passing your money down in the manner intended. A 2015 study revealed that nearly one third of parents who planned to pass down money did not communicate with their children about it. Only about 15% of children were informed of their parents’ plan, and half of them didn’t even know any money was coming to them. Start talking to your kids about what wealth means–what it means to you, and what it means to the entire family. What do the kids want to do to contribute? Teach them how to establish values for whatever wealth means to them.


Reach out to our team at the Deliberato Law Center to set up an estate plan that benefits your entire family and upholds the values you’ve instilled in your children since they were young. Contact us using the brief form below, and a member of our team will get in touch to answer your questions and help guide you towards estate planning decisions that bring you peace of mind.