Helping Your Children

The story of your financial life is really the story of your family's needs: starting a college fund for a newborn, putting away dollars for retirement, helping parents as they get on in years. But what if you're a member of the so-called "sandwich generation," trying to help both children and parents (and yourself!) at the same time? You've probably already seen that your children's needs don't end when they go off to college or are out in the "real" world. And you're not alone. Of the $203 billion passed from parents to children in 1994, nearly half was in the form of outright gifts (31%) and tuition (17%), according to Federal Reserve Bank studies. The rest was in the form of bequests.

So how should you help your children? Accumulating dollars is only part of the picture. There are probably certain values and habits you'd like to pass along. You'll also want to think about tax considerations and estate planning. And you'll want to balance your desire to help with their need to be self-sufficient. What's more, you'll also want to think about the ways you can help yourself at the same time, through tax and estate planning. Heritage Planning is a framework for planning that can help you identify, prioritize, and achieve your goals for your children.

The Process Behind Helping Your Children

As with other elements of Heritage Planning, it's useful to begin the planning process by listing the questions you already have, then extracting from that list some broader goals. You and one of our advisers can discuss what strategies, and then which action steps, may be appropriate to help you achieve those goals.

It Begins With Questions

What's on your mind? The questions you have can give you a better idea of what areas you'd like to focus on in planning.

Setting Goals

What are some goals you might be able to help your children achieve?


Our financial advisers can help you (and your children, if appropriate) work out the strategies that can bring you closer to your goals. The steps below won't all be appropriate for everyone, but they do illustrate the range of strategies that may be available to you.

Action Steps

With strategies in place, consider the actions that flow from them. The list below probably includes one or more of the steps your adviser may wind up recommending. (individual situations vary; your adviser can help you decide which action steps are right for you.)

Helping Your Children--And Helping Yourself

Below are some hypothetical examples of how helping your children can also help you.. Ask your adviser for guidance in deciding how these examples might work in your situation.

More details on these issues and many others are available. Please understand that while this information was gathered from sources believed to be reliable, it is only a starting point and is generic in nature. Therefore its accuracy cannot be guaranteed for every situation. We encourage you to contact our office so that we may evaluate each situation independently and offer accurate advice based on individual needs. We also encourage you to discuss any recommendations with an attorney or tax advisor. If you do not have an attorney or tax advisor, we will be happy to refer you to one.

For more information or a list of other Heritage Planning educational materials on helping your parents, contact:

Richard M. Smith
Professional Educators Benefits Company
Post Office Box 37102
Tallahassee, Florida 32315-7102

Telephone: 904-385-2627