"Children are our most important possessions," says attorney Gerald Condon. "We do our best to keep them together while we're alive--we don't want them to crumble after we die." There is a right way and a wrong way to leave money to children. Gerald and Jeffrey Condon discuss some common mistakes:
* Don't keep secrets. Although parents are frequently reluctant to convene the family and discuss inheritance plans--fearing disputes, or just not wanting to talk about the subject--a full and frank discussion is the foremost tool in avoiding inheritance problems. It's usually a great relief to everyone.
* Treat your children equally. If you've given one child more money for education or a home loan or anything else over the years, you should balance it out in the inheritance plan. You might not be keeping a score card, but the brothers and sisters are, no matter what they say, and grievances that date back to childhood ("Dad always liked you best!") can be activated.
* Don't die with a child owing you money. It makes the debtor child a debtor to your other children and they will not be as forgiving as you were.