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Sting's stiffing his kids—should you?

It's been widely reported that Sting, the musician worth an estimated $300 million, said he would not leave his six children an inheritance. Instead, he would like them to earn their own money and learn the value of hard work, as he did growing up in a working-class family.

This raises a unique question: Should parents leave money to their adult children, or should the latter have to "make it" on their own?

Taylor Hill | WireImage | Getty Images

This is a question that many affluent families face, and they often enlist the help of their financial advisor and a family wealth consultant to help them figure it out. But even if you are not a multimillionaire and only considering leaving your kids a modest inheritance or a family home, the essence of the question is the same: How does leaving money and assets after your death impact the next generation? The answer is, It depends.

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Based on my work as a wealth psychology expert and my experience helping couples talk more openly about money, I've discovered there are three things you should consider when deciding what makes the most sense for your family:

1. The value of hard work can't be denied. Teaching children the value of hard work and how they can contribute to society is an important lesson. For those families that have financial resources, it can become trickier to encourage the kids to work and contribute to the household.

It is worth noting that when I ask my graduate-level students at Bentley University what they learned from their first jobs, the answers always include the value of a dollar, the impact of taxes on income, and how many hours you really have to work to make enough money to pay your bills.

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These are important lessons teenagers should learn before they are launched into the adult world. Whether you plan on leaving a sizable inheritance or not, the lesson of hard work is invaluable.

2. Receiving money as a gift is nice, but it's complicated. News anchors reporting the Sting story were joking about the fact that he doesn't want to burden his children with his wealth. Many people in society don't realize that living with affluence, especially when it is inherited, is complicated and requires a big adjustment.

Just think about some of the celebrity children, such as Kelly Osbourne and Paris Hilton, who have had a bumpy road. These young adults and many of their peers have been involved in sex tapes, drugs and a string of unhealthy relationships.

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The truth is that no matter the size of the inheritance you plan to leave, you must prepare your children to be fiscally and emotionally ready to receive it. This requires financial literacy training from an early age and money conversations about the meaning of the gift when the children are old enough to understand these matters.

"Make sure that the monetary gift comes with an opportunity to discuss family values and your hopes and dreams for the money."

Some parents avoid talking about money with their adult children, but in my experience, the conversations leading up to the inheritance are what are most valuable when the parents are no longer alive.

3. There is no right decision. There is no right and wrong decision when it comes to gifting money to your children and/or grandchildren. But it does make sense to work with a skilled financial advisor—and, in some cases, a family wealth consultant—to help you figure out what makes sense in your unique family situation.

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Make sure that the monetary gift comes with an opportunity to discuss family values and your hopes and dreams for the money. While your adult children may not follow your wishes exactly, having this information will make receiving the gift less complicated emotionally. And isn't that what we all want for our kids when we are gone?

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