The matter of inheritance is exceedingly important and a crucial concern in the dynamics of family life today. Parents consider at length what kind of inheritance they want to pass on to their children. And, children, in turn, when they attain a certain age, ponder what they are going to inherit from their parents. The familiar and favorite parable of the wise father and the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24) is the finest example I know of the kind of inheritance I would like to give as a parent and receive as a son.
To clarify what this parable teaches us two common misconceptions must be addressed and set aside. The first is an inheritance is something parents leave their children after they have died. However, if you think about it, this is far too limited a concept because parents begin bequeathing an inheritance to their children the moment the child is born in the sense of passing on certain life experiences and values that surely will shape that child’s existence. So, the request of the prodigal was not as brash as it first appeared. Like any young adult leaving home he gathered up whatever inheritance had been shared with him and began transacting with life out of that legacy. As parents it is imperative we not wait until the end of life to consider what kind of inheritance we want to leave.
The second misconception is an inheritance consists only of money or physical property, which also is a far too restricted view, because an inheritance stands for all parents transfer to their children in terms of opportunities, values and a whole vision of life. This is not to imply the economic side is unimportant, because it is very important. But it is not everything, and a child is poor indeed whose parents do not realize this and seek to bequeath only a monetary estate. A child needs more from parents than money bequeathed at death, and this is why the father of the prodigal is so worthy of our attention. And, what makes it doubly important is this father is a reflection of our Father in Heaven.
So, remember, it’s more important what you leave in them that what you leave to them. “Instill your values…before you give them your valuables.”
The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.