Women And Money: Writing A Letter To Your Child

Mother’s Day always reminds me of gifts children give to Moms throughout their lifetime to show their love and affection.  This Mother’s Day consider giving a gift to your children by writing them a letter to read after you’re gone. 

This may be the most heart-wrenching activity there is – writing a personal letter to be given to (or held for) your child in the event of your sudden death. This is by no means an estate planning necessity. It is, however, something many mothers choose to do … to ease their children through what would be a profound loss, to impart information they fear will be lost otherwise, or perhaps because they are acutely aware of all the questions that were left unanswered by their own parents’ deaths. 

(SUGGESTION: It might be easier to write this letter if you view it as a kind of “time capsule” – thoughts recorded at a moment in time. The chance that you will die suddenly is far smaller, after all, than the likelihood that you will live to update this letter in a few years – and then a few years after that – to keep the thoughts current.).

Topics you might want to include: 

1) The context: It might help to explain exactly when you are writing this letter, how old your child is, both in terms of age and stage of life, your age and stage of life as well, and your reason for writing the letter.

2) Verification of your child’s importance – to you, to others. This may seem silly. Surely he or she knows how you feel! But the validity of memory is often questioned and remem­brances do not stand up all that well against the test of time. Studies indicate children who lose parents are constantly searching for proof that they were, in fact, cherished. 

3) Information Disclosure: There is a lot of information that only you can impart, and you might want to share this in your letter. You possess many of the memories that constitute your child’s personal history, for example. Children young and old love family stories – anecdotes about themselves, their siblings, descriptions of funny family incidents. 

You are also probably a key link to family history, the person who knows where the relatives are, how they are related, where the ancestors came from, how the family changed from generation to generation. This kind of information is vital to all offspring – young and old as well. Adult children often find themselves left with scrapbooks filled with pic­tures of people who look like them but whom they cannot identify.

Since science is discovering, increasingly, that genetics plays a key role in physical and mental health, you might want to also discuss family medical history here – problems to be on the lookout for which have manifested themselves through the generations. 

You might also want to share some of your personal preferences in the letter. Some women plan their own funerals, for example, leaving instructions for their children to fol­low regarding the speakers, poetry and music selections and the bible portions they want read. This may sound macabre, but children who want to do “the right thing” when a par­ent dies often find themselves in a dilemma as to what the “right thing” is. You might want to write out your own obituary as well – and for the same reason. After all, who knows the details and dates of your biography better than you?

Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently announced the release of an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  Annino’s book is an exhortation, resource and trusted companion for women in all facets of life.  To purchase the book visit:  http://amzn.to/hOHuEV or for more about Annino, visit: www.patriciaannino.com

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