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A will doesn't always leave assets to children

If you are a parent who has been fortunate enough to accumulate wealth and property throughout your life, you probably have wondered how you will pass it on. Talking about money with your kids can seem awkward. They may not be aware of the family's wealth, and you may not want to give them a disincentive to achieve their fullest potential on their own.

How do you balance the desire to pass on your wealth with the need to push your kids to do their best? Your kids are probably the first people to come to mind as your beneficiaries, logically so, but it may not always be that way. Unique circumstances can change your estate plan throughout life. What you want to do today may not be what is right 20 years from now.

High-profile examples

We often learn about estate planning from celebrities. Their actions provide a roadmap of right and wrong in planning and should give us pause to consider our own wishes in a similar circumstance. However, for as much as celebrities seem to lead different lives from us, they often have the same internal conflicts as you when it comes to wealth and kids.

According to CNBC, 68 percent of Millennials are expecting some form of inheritance, though far fewer will actually receive one. The need to teach kids self-reliance is as important as ensuring your wishes for your estate are in order.

Though an estate can be complex, some of America's richest people are avoiding the potential complications by limiting their children's access to it. According to CNBC, investor Warren Buffett plans to donate more than 99 percent of his wealth to charity. Meanwhile, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber says he doesn't believe in inheritance at all.

Estate planning alternatives

The unique wishes of the ultra-rich give us some insight into alternative options in estate planning. Maybe you have a few favorite charities you would like to support in your estate plan. Maybe you want to set up a scholarship or research fund to help others in education for years to come.

You don't have to be as rich as Warren Buffet to want to do these things either. Combining tax planning with the establishment of a trust can provide practical tools for ensuring your assets are passed on according to your wishes.

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