Recently a good friend shared with me a clip from the famous John Wayne movie, “McLintock!” There’s a great scene in the movie that provides a perfect lesson for you and me about how we may consider leaving the best legacy to our children through our estate.

In the scene, McLintock tells his daughter Becky that he believes she will have “every young buck west of the Missouri” trying to marry her because she’s beautiful and because they think she will inherit his vast ranch. He tells her that she won’t inherit the ranch at the end of his life. Instead, he says he will establish a park in order to protect the land and bless others.

He says, “Some folks are going to say I’m doing this so I can sit up in the hereafter and look down on a park that was named after me, or that I was disappointed in you and didn’t want you to get all that money. But the real reason, Becky, is because I love you. And I want you and some young man to have what I had. Because all the gold in the United States Treasury and all the harp music in heaven can’t equal what happens between a man and a woman with all that growing together.”

Those are good words that underscore the opportunity we have to share our financial blessings with our children in a way that will help them rather than hurting them. Every mom and dad dreams of passing a blessing on to their children. But just as all children are different, the when, why and how of making gifts to children can vary greatly from family to family and from child to child.

There are many questions that should be answered as you prepare your estate plan. A prudent parent will carefully consider the nature and amount of gifts, as well as the needs of the children and their ability to handle what may be unearned or unexpected financial gain.

Remember, some gifts can be very beneficial for the child – in fact, they can represent a learning experience. But balancing that is the fact that gifts given at the wrong time or in the wrong amounts can result in less initiative and even weaken the character of the child. There’s a lot of think about.

Fortunately, there are also a lot of creative options for accomplishing your best intentions while doing what’s best for your children. Often times, you can do both while also leaving a lasting legacy to your church or to your favorite charity.

Children At Heart Ministries offers a confidential, complimentary and comprehensive estate plan review, which will leave you with an actionable plan to carry out your values in your planning. For information about accessing this service, please send me an email or call me at 512-246-4221. And if you want to watch that scene from McLintock! click here. It’s a classic, indeed.

Dawson Clark, CFRE, is Vice President for Mission Advancement at Children At Heart Ministries. Dawson received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University and has over 30 years of fundraising experience. He and his wife, Leanne, have two adult children.