Splitting Heirs, Giving Your Money and Things to Your Children Without Ruining Their Lives

The title of this book, by Christian financial advisor Ron Blue, is somewhat misleading. While leaving wealth to children is a prominent topic, the transferring of wealth in general is the overall subject. As a matter of fact, Blue strongly challenges the commonly held concept that children should receive all their parents’ assets just because of their bloodline. He encourages parents to love their children equally but treat them uniquely (p. 45) and not transfer wealth to those who will use it unwisely (pp. 118, 127).

Believers are accountable for all God gives us, and we must carefully consider who will inherit God’s resources after we are gone (p. 48). There are only three options for transferring wealth: heirs, charity, or government (taxes) (pp. 57-60). If we want our money to go where our heart is (p. 139), we need to pay careful attention to wealth transfer, which he distinguishes from estate planning (p. 38). Toward that end, Blue outlines six decisions in the wealth transfer process (see p. 37) and provides helpful aids such as worksheets (pp. 40-41). The author encourages the reader to answer three questions before leaving wealth to anyone: What is the worst thing that can happen if I transfer wealth to this person? How serious is it? How likely is it to occur (p. 72)?

It will take courage not to leave all of one’s assets to one’s children or to treat them uniquely (pp. 73, 146). Therefore, it is wise to test them with a token inheritance now (p. 75), for leaving money to one who has no wisdom can be devastating (p. 118). Blue is a strong advocate of giving while we are living (pp. 98-99, 119-126). In order to do so, we will need to set a cap on how much we will need while we are living to guard against excess accumulation (pp. 100-102, 196). After setting this cap we can now strategically begin giving away the rest (p. 108). Such giving needs to factor in the integrity and wisdom of children as well as charitable organizations, and Blue provides evaluation questions to aid in this process (pp. 109-113). We must also be aware and take full advantage of the tax laws (pp. 151-178). Although the specifics concerning laws he cites are out-of-date, the advice is still valid. Blue encourages a family conference (or several) to map out with heirs their desires and intentions (pp. 153-194). He ends his book with the gospel, discussing the greatest wealth transfer of all time—Christ dying for us (p. 205).

Splitting Heirs is designed for the middle class and wealthy (p. 21), although it leans toward the rich in its advice. I would encourage anyone nearing retirement age to read and apply the principles found within Splitting Heirs. Younger adults would benefit as well.

by Ron Blue and Jeremy White (Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing, 2004), 209 pp., paper $15.99

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Southern View Chapel