Helping clients sort out a holiday inheritance fight

By Gil Martinez | January 25, 2018 | Last updated on January 25, 2018
2 min read

In the first 10 minutes of a meeting, your client says:

“My kids had a horrible fight over the holidays. I told them I wanted to give them their inheritance while I’m still alive, and all hell broke loose. Caroline said she should get more money because I didn’t pay for her university. Louisa died a few years ago and left twin boys, John and Matt. Emily wants the money divided equally into three parts, with the twins splitting Louisa’s share. And I think each kid and grandkid should get the same amount. I should have left this for them to fight out after I am gone!”

At that moment

  • Remind your client she can do what she wants with her money.
  • Ask your client why she wants to give her family money now instead of after she dies.

If you think your client is being pressured into giving up her money, she may be a victim of elder abuse. IFIC has released two checklists that can help you work with vulnerable clients. Check them out at

Later in the meeting

  • Help your client decide what she can afford to give. She may live longer than she expects, or may assume her kids will take care of her with the money she gives them.
  • Offer to model how giving away money now will affect her finances up to age 95 or 100 using her projected income and expenses.
  • Explore her reasons for giving while alive. Based on that conversation, refer your client to an estate planner to discuss her options.

At your next meeting

  • Based on your modelling, show her whether it’s viable to give money away now.
  • Find out what the estate planner recommended.
  • Coach her on ways to explain her rationale to her family. If she prefers a third party get involved, offer to act as or find a facilitator.

by Gil Martinez, art director of Advisor Group

Gil Martinez