Can’t Leave an Inheritance? Here Are 6 Ways to Help Your Family

Photo by Zakhar Goncharov / Shutterstock.com

Parents generally want to give their children a leg up in the world. For that reason, many of us would love to leave an inheritance.

In reality, this is difficult or impossible for many of us. Because of our longer lives, higher cost of living and lower rate of savings these days, many of us will have little left over for heirs.

But just because you don’t have vast holdings to divvy up among your heirs doesn’t mean you can’t help your kids get ahead in the world in ways like these:

1. Live within your means

Potstock / Shutterstock.com

If you can’t leave your kids big bucks, at least avoid asking them for financial support. There may be some circumstances — sudden ill health or job loss, for example — that prompt you to turn to family, including your adult children.

But depending on your kids for help because of your own out-of-control spending is something else entirely. If you are on a path to becoming a burden, your best “gift” to your children may be to become disciplined about living on the income you have. That may require radical downsizing.

Also, avoid taking on debt in retirement — or at least avoid debt that will require a financial rescue from your kids.

2. Pitch in where it really counts

Painting senior
C Jones / Shutterstock.com

What gifts of wisdom, labor or other assistance can you offer now to help set your kids up for a better future?

Before one of my friends lost her dad, he helped her and her husband strengthen their financial security while he was alive. She told me:

“My dad was absolutely instrumental in renovating our (1909) house in a neighborhood that was expensive even in 1997 (thus worth a small fortune now) and renovating a rental that is now a cash-generator. I consider that more than enough inheritance. He didn’t leave much money, but he left the results of his labor and contributed a huge amount to our nest egg in the long run.”

3. Help them buy a home

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

If you can’t give your kids an entire down payment — nice as that would be — think of other ways to help them become homeowners. Here are two:

  • Contribute to a down-payment fund. Contribute gifts of whatever amount you can — on holidays, on birthdays or whenever — to a fund for their home purchase. Maybe you can add several thousand dollars or maybe just a few hundred. Whatever you can contribute helps to defray some of the fees and costs of buying a home.
  • Give know-how and encouragement. If you’ve bought a home yourself you may have valuable assistance to offer. For instance, you could print copies of the Uniform Residential Loan Application that mortgage borrowers often must complete, and go over it with them. That will clarify the process and help them start planning. You also could offer to take on other steps, such as searching for lenders, or retrieving and printing financial documents, or brainstorming ideas for coming up with a down payment. Planning for buying a home can take years. Your encouragement can help with steps along the way.

4. Get your finances in order

Elena Elliseeva / Shutterstock.com
Elena Elliseeva / Shutterstock.com

It’s grim but true that none of us knows which day will be our last. For that reason, don’t leave your kids with a mess to unravel.

Following are a few ways to organize your finances. There’s no need for perfection. Just do your best, a little at a time, but start now:

5. Take care of your health

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

To stick around as long as you can and help your young ones as much as possible, take care of your health. That advice sounds generic and distant until you hit your 60s and 70s. Then, the effects of a healthy lifestyle become vividly apparent as the debilitating “lifestyle diseases” come home to roost. Among them: stroke, heart disease, colon cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes and disabilities from the effects of smoking, inactivity, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Adult kids pay a high price when they quit their jobs to become caregivers for their elders. Having left the workforce can also make it difficult for an older worker to get rehired.

According to the nonprofit Family Caregiver Alliance:

  • Caregiving reduces paid work hours for middle-aged women by about 41 percent.
  • In total, the cost impact of caregiving on the individual female caregiver in terms of lost wages and Social Security benefits equals $324,044.

6. Make a will — or update it

Thinglass / Shutterstock.com
Thinglass / Shutterstock.com

Make a simple will telling your loved ones what to do with your stuff and what your desires and plans are for a funeral and burial or cremation. This is such a thoughtful thing to do. It will save them time, money and headaches when they are grieving. If you’ve got a will, update it regularly.

Also, write a sweet note to go along with your will, telling them you love them and where to find the accounts, documents, passwords and other stuff they’ll need.

Do you know of other ways to strengthen your children’s futures without leaving them an inheritance of money or property? Tell us what you’ve done by posting a comment below or tell us on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Reasons Workers Age 65 and Older Have Not Retired Yet
7 Reasons Workers Age 65 and Older Have Not Retired Yet

For some, the golden years are a time to increase the gold — but their reasons for delaying retirement vary widely.

7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts
7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts

IRAs come with bells and whistles that many other accounts lack — including some perks you may not know exist.

7 Things That Prove Cheaper Isn’t Always Better
7 Things That Prove Cheaper Isn’t Always Better

These purchases can end up costing you more if you try to go the cheap route.

Avoiding These 5 Foods Could Save Your Vision as You Age
Avoiding These 5 Foods Could Save Your Vision as You Age

Millions of Americans may be able to prevent an incurable cause of blindness by making a basic change.

7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score
7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score

A seemingly small stumble can cause your credit score to plummet.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

Why Your Next Stimulus Check Might Be Bigger Than You Expect
Why Your Next Stimulus Check Might Be Bigger Than You Expect

Your third coronavirus payment will be the biggest yet — and possibly even bigger than you realize.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

The 10 Worst States for Retirees in 2021
The 10 Worst States for Retirees in 2021

Based on factors like affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.