Leaving a lasting legacy for your kids and grandkids

Estate planning
Matters Beyond Wealth

Exploring estate planning and legacy considerations for grandparents, including navigating intergenerational family dynamics

“These discussions are so important to have out loud and really think about what you want your legacy to be. I think the other thing is in terms of for grandparents, it's not just about the money and the property, what do you want to leave behind for your grandkids to remember you by?”
Kathy Buckworth, award winning writer, spokesperson, content creator and media personality

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Transcript

Intro Speaker:

Hello, and welcome to Matters Beyond Wealth with your host, Leanne Kaufman, president and CEO of RBC Royal Trust. For most of us, talking about subjects like aging, late life, and estate planning isn’t easy. That’s why we’re going to help get the conversation started on this podcast while benefiting from the insights and expertise of some of the country’s top experts. We want to bring you information today that will help to protect you and your family in the future. Now, here’s your host, Leanne.

Leanne Kaufman:

Being a grandparent is one of the great joys in life for seven and a half million Canadians. Parents want to set their children up for success, and grandparents are no different. You want nothing but the best for your children’s children. When it comes to wealth transfer and succession planning, it may feel like a daunting task as a grandparent, but my guest and I are here today to talk about how to reconsider the legacy you leave when you’re a grandparent.

Hello, I’m Leanne Kaufman and welcome to RBC Wealth Management Canada’s Matters Beyond Wealth. Today, I am so delighted to be joined by parenting and grandparenting expert Kathy Buckworth. Kathy has spent 20 years in the corporate marketing space, is the successful author of six parenting books and a well-known media personality. Kathy works with brands in broadcast and online media, as well as hosting television shows on Slice TV and Rogers. She appears regularly on morning television across the country. She is currently the creator, writer and host of Zoomer Radio’s, Go To Grandma show and podcast, and as I’ve been a guest of hers on that show, I guess we could call today’s episode a crossover. She’s also the co-host of Stories from the Green Bench podcast, which focuses on elder wisdom. Kathy, thanks for being here with me today to discuss intergenerational wealth transfer and why this matters beyond wealth.

Kathy Buckworth:

I’m so excited to be here, Leanne. It’s nice to be on your podcast for a change.

Leanne Kaufman:

It is, it’s exciting. We already have this podcast relationship, so this is fun. Kathy, you went from being a parenting expert to being a grandparenting expert, and I think a lot has probably changed in the time between you being a parent and a grandparent, including the invention of the podcast. What inspired you to start a radio show and a podcast that focuses on grandparents and the things that they care about?

Kathy Buckworth:

Well, when I started writing about parenting—my youngest who just turned 21 the other day, my youngest of four—we were into some certain types of parenting and parenting strategies. Mom blogs were blowing up all over the place, that was a real big thing at the time. As I went through the years with my kids and started evolving, they became teens and all of that stuff happened, there was sort of a dead space for me, I’ll be honest with you, when they were teens and in their early twenties because a lot of those issues then are quite serious, and I’m not a qualified psychotherapist, so I didn’t want to delve into very sensitive issues, but when I found out I was going to be a grandparent three years ago with my oldest daughter, she was 28 when she had Owen her first, and I was 28 when I had her. So, at 56 I found myself a grandma, which is a normal age, I think, maybe a bit on the young side for some people, but I think a pretty normal age to become a grandparent. I thought, well, where are all the grandmas online? Where are all the grandparents and where’s the wisdom that I can get from these people that have been there before me? I didn’t find a lot, I’ll be honest. I had worked with Zoomer Radio in the past, I’ve written for Zoomer Magazine, and I love their culture and I love their whole sort of vibe. I went to their general manager and sent him an email and said, I’d like to do this show called Go To Grandma, talking about: I’ll be your go-to grandma, I’ll gather information, I’ll share it. I had been warned that he could take some time to get back to me, but he got back to me in 10 minutes and said, “We’re on. We need this, we need this in our space. We don’t have a show dedicated to grandparents.” And so I launched it as a magazine format style show. As you know, Leanne, with the title sponsor Royal Bank, we do a five minute interview every episode with Royal Bank on different matters that concern our audience as well as I usually have two other guest interviews. They’re quick interviews, the show’s only half an hour or 26 minutes in radio time with the ads, so it makes for a deadline on my podcast as well. It’s been a really fun, energetic space. I have learned so much from the guests, including you, and I hope that we’re able to share that with our listeners.

Leanne Kaufman:

Well, let’s talk about what you’ve learned. What topics are you finding are resonating with your audience or what’s been your most popular topic?

Kathy Buckworth:

Honestly, and I’m not just saying this because I’m on your show, but the financial advice that we’ve been sharing has been so welcomed and rates really highly, especially around estate planning, which I know is your forte, but people just don’t know what they don’t know. I think for people entering their fifties, they might have thought about it in terms of what their parents Will’s includes, how to help their parents through estate planning, and they haven’t given a lot of thought to it themselves. A lot of people don’t know what probate is. A lot of people didn’t know, how does a transfer of funds happen before I pass away? What do I do with my house? All of these affairs that we think we should know about, what we keep sort of putting it off. So those ones have been really beneficial.

Besides the finance ones, we’ve also done a lot in terms of travel. We’ve done sleep, fitness, nutrition. I have regularly experts come on and tell me what video games I should be playing with my kids, what technology I should have in my house, is a smart house worth it? What safety measures can I put in? We talk about automobiles, because a lot of us are still consumers, we’re still buying things. We want to know what’s going on in the market. I have a lot of book authors on. I had an author of crossword books on, which was fascinating to a geek like me, how she made crosswords. It really is everything, so when I say it’s the show for today’s grandparent, it’s not just all about grandparenting.

However, we do have a lot of family therapists and psychotherapists on the show talk about relationships, not just between grandparents and grandkids, but of course grandparents and parents and the differences they might have. We talked, actually just a couple weeks ago, about what if you have a sassy teen grand kid, like how do you address that with the teen themselves and also with their parents? My daughter is actually a parenting educator, Tori Halpin is her name. She does courses online for gentle parenting, which is the new parenting strategy from when I was a parent. So I’ve had her on the show a few times explaining to me and other grandparents what millennial moms and parents are doing today and what’s working for them.

Leanne Kaufman:

I’m not ready to be a grandmother. I still have teenagers, but a lot of your topics resonate with me as well, so don’t let the name fool you. There’s lots for everybody in the Go To Grandma podcast. Let’s talk about your observations when it comes to the concerns of your audience around longevity, living longer as grandparents maybe, hopefully lots of us will have the opportunity to be great grandparents as well. How have you seen your audiences views maybe changed from where they might have been 20 or 30 years ago around health and longevity?

Kathy Buckworth:

It’s a great question. You just referenced don’t let the name of the podcast fool you, I actually chose the name, Go To Grandma on purpose. Somebody said, “why are you putting grandma right there in the title?” I’m like, “because I’m reclaiming it.” I’m redefining the word. I’m tired of people saying, “Okay, grandma,” like it’s an insult. It’s actually a great place to be. I think of being a grandma like being a senior manager—then you’re a senior manager. But it’s funny. How has it evolved? It’s evolved a great deal. A lot of the people I have on my show are grandparents themselves, but a lot them are experts in their fields. We talk specifically to sort of that 55 plus market. What I’ve noticed a big difference in is people are really interested in their fitness and their nutrition. Fitness is not something you put by the side when you turn a certain age. It’s something that you actually have to be conscious of all the time. Mindfulness as well. We do a lot of talking about mindfulness and being in the moment, really enjoying life with your grandkids and by yourself. And nutrition. We all know there’s certain things that we just can’t eat or drink anymore, darn it. But it’s good to have those reminders and we hopefully provide practical advice on how to change what you’re doing, just make it a bit better. I would say it’s never too late to start doing something new, but it’s also never too early to start with habits as well. For instance, estate planning when you’re 50, yeah, that’s a thing, right? Learning how to get your balance back, or do crossword puzzles for your brain, never too early to start that stuff. I think we’ve seen a big shift in terms of what grandparents are and do. We’re pretty hands on. We’re pretty active as opposed to perhaps just baking cookies all the time, which I do. Okay, but you know

Leanne Kaufman:

But they’re healthy cookies.

Kathy Buckworth:

They’re healthy because my grandkids are vegan, so I have to make… but it is all of that. I think it’s also, we used to have this whole sort of what happens at grandma’s house, stays at grandma’s house. I definitely do not subscribe to that philosophy. We’re recognizing now that we have to have good open honest relationships with our children because they actually hold the keys to the grandparent kingdom. We have to make sure that we have a good relationship with them first. I think that includes all things in terms of talking to them about money, talking to them about their future plans, helping them out where we can, being respectful of their parenting decisions. We could talk about them behind their backs with our friends. That’s cool. My daughter knows I do that. I think we really recognize that we have an important role to play, the role of the grandparent is very important. My parents are still alive, so my grandkids have great grandparents, and my adult children have a good relationship with their grandparents, and I see that, and it’s really great.

Leanne Kaufman:

It is. It’s so important. And for those of us who lost our grandparents early, then I think there’s something that we’re missing out on for sure. So how do you think the concept of legacy, and you’ve talked a little bit about estate planning for individuals in their own minds, but how do you think it changes when someone becomes a grandparent?

Kathy Buckworth:

Well, I think we think of ourselves as—like I said, my parents are still alive, they’re in their eighties—and I always think that, well, they’re the top of the line or the top of the ladder. I think when you move to that top of the ladder, you recognize that you’re the one sort of next. I’m not trying to be morbid or anything, but you’re next, right? You’re up there. So, I think what happens when you have grandkids is you really start to think about, “Gee, I thought I was busy still taking care of my kids,” and all of a sudden there’s the next generation. It does make a difference in terms of how you think about estate planning. What are you going to leave to your kids? What are you going to leave to your grandkids? I’m pretty sure they don’t want that whole China collection that I have upstairs, for instance, as a small example, but as a larger example, do they want the burden of taking over, even being your adult children, do they want to be executors of your Will?

You start to think about too, your kids should have a Will, and my daughter or husband certainly do have a Will because what happens to their kids if something happens to you? It kind of all goes down the line, and these discussions are so important to have out loud and really think about what you want your legacy to be. I think the other thing is in terms of for grandparents, it’s not just about the money and the property, what do you want to leave behind for your grandkids to remember you by? My parents recently had the opportunity at their retirement home to record some of their memoirs, which was so great. It was really just about four or five pages, and they could have put a lot more in, but everything from my mom growing up in Coventry in World War II, to my dad, his dad was the mayor of Canterbury. My kids didn’t know a lot of this stuff, so it was great for my kids to see that.

Try to do that, take a moment, record it somehow, talk to them about stories. My parents tell a lot of stories about their childhood to my kids now at the dinner table, which is great. So legacy is a lot of things, it’s not just money.

Leanne Kaufman:

You’re right! That’s a great gift if they can leave behind stories. I know that my great-aunt had some great stories, and some of my cousins were able to record her telling them before she passed, and everyone’s so grateful that they did that.

So, you talked about having open and honest conversations with your kids about parenting, and we spend a lot of time in my industry encouraging families to have open and honest conversations about late life and estate planning as you know. So, in your experience talking to grandparents, would you encourage—now your grandkids I know are young—

Kathy Buckworth:

Yeah.

Leanne Kaufman:

But when the time comes, do you think that those conversations should include the grandkids? How might that change the conversation?

Kathy Buckworth:

Well, I guess I can flip that one back up because my grandkids are too young, but my parents talk to me a lot.

Leanne Kaufman:

Sure.

Kathy Buckworth:

Every time I go to see them, they pull out the binder. The binder with all the financials and what hymns they want sung at their funeral and all of that. In fact, when I was at lunch with my parents the other day, they said, “Kathy, have you planned your funeral?” I’m like, “I got the Will done.” So we do have open conversations, and my parents, they talk to us when the grandkids—my kids, who are now in age from 21 to 31, so they do talk to them about it as well. In fact, my mom the other day just announced, “We don’t really want a visitation at our funeral because people have things to do, they can zoom it.” Like, “okay.”

But it’s—

Leanne Kaufman:

Very progressive.

Kathy Buckworth:

Very progressive. And they’ve always been open about that. I remember when my mom said, “why would I get a 10-year passport? I only need five, let’s be honest.” So we’ve always had a healthy discussion around death and dying, which I know when it happens will be as debilitating for us as it is for anyone. I think because my kids know that my parents have planned for it, they’ve planned every detail for when they pass and they’ve taken care of themselves and everything. It’s important for them to see it, I think. They know that we have Wills, we haven’t planned the funeral yet, but we do have Wills and things—so I think we’re very open about it.

We’ve always been pretty open with our kids about money, where money comes from, how much things cost. Those discussions don’t just start up all of a sudden, they’re something that takes place over time. So all of a sudden, when you’re talking about your house, honestly, my kids, when they were young, you had no idea what a house cost or how much was a good… my kids graduated from university, “mom, what’s a good income?” I’m thinking, “Wow, I thought we had this discussion.” So those money discussions are really important on going, as are the discussions around what happens when you’re not there to help them.

Leanne Kaufman:

And your kids seeing their grandparents and you having these open conversations, having the planning, it probably sets a good example, but it also probably gives them a lot of peace of mind when the time comes that this is what you would’ve wanted.

Kathy Buckworth:

Yeah.

Leanne Kaufman:

Your joke about the 10-year passport, my husband had a relative who used to say he’d stopped buying green bananas.

Kathy Buckworth:

Oh, gosh. Okay. That’s even more, that’s closer.

Leanne Kaufman:

So what if grandparents want to include adult grandchildren in conversations, but the middle generation, the parents aren’t comfortable with that. How might you suggest people navigate that conversation?

Kathy Buckworth:

It’s a great conversation, and again, because my grandkids are young, I’ve come at it from that angle in terms of, I check with my daughter in terms of is it okay for them to do this, to hear that, to do whatever. I think it’s really important to protect the relationship with your children first, as I referenced before. However, once the grandkids are adults, let’s say 18 plus, however you want to define that, I think it’s okay to have those discussions with them directly. Now, I think you might want to just run it by the parents that you’re going to be talking—if it’s something quite serious like an illness, or maybe they’re leaving them some property or something bigger sort of subject—but at the end of the day, if they’re adults, they’re adults. Sometimes I think grandparents and adult grandchildren can have their own relationships, and I think they’re really nice, even when they’re teens leading up to being in a full grown adult. Sometimes teens can talk to their grandparents in a way that they can’t with their parents about all kinds of issues. So, I think having that separate relationship can be really nice.

In a couple of weeks, we’re doing an episode with how important it is for granddads and grandmas to have that relationship, to spend the time with their grandkids on their own, doing things that they want to do, and skipping, we call it skip-gen, right? Skipping that generation in between. You can do that just going to the park, or you can do it, take them on a trip somewhere. Having an open relationship with them, so when you raise an uncomfortable subject, they’re more comfortable with it because you have that base to build on.

Leanne Kaufman:

Such a strong foundational relationship already.

Kathy Buckworth:

Exactly.

Leanne Kaufman:

Well, if you just had one piece of advice that you wanted to leave with grandparents about their legacy for their kids and their grandkids, what would your one piece of advice be?

Kathy Buckworth:

I think, as I said before, that legacy doesn’t have to be money. I think a lot of people think, oh, I don’t have that enough to leave, or it’s complicated, etcetera. I think obviously that’s important and we have to estate plan and figure that out, but also consider the legacy of what you want to leave to them in terms of conversations you have with them. Again, writing down a memoir, spending a lot of time with them, face time, etcetera. If you’re a long-distance grandparent, it’s a bit trickier. But making sure that you know that they’ve been heard, that you have a good relationship with their parents first, that’s key again. And that’s my best advice for anyone who’s going to be a new grandparent, is really check in on that parent relationship that your child, who is the new parent, quite a bit.

And please remember that parenting strategies change all the time. We had ones that our parents didn’t agree with, and they have ones that you don’t have to agree to it. You can just say yes, and it’s a great thing. So yeah, really having a plan too, of course, having a plan, working with an advisor, and making sure you have everything in a row before you start to leave things to your grandkids and kids.

Leanne Kaufman:

All great advice. Thank you, Kathy. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation, and as I said, I’m not ready to quite yet be a grandparent, but when I do, I know who I’m going to call. I know who I’m going to go to.

Kathy Buckworth:

Well, I have my third one coming in May, right! My third grandchild coming in May, and it’s a girl.

Leanne Kaufman:

Oh, your first girl. Well, congratulations. That’s amazing.

Kathy Buckworth:

Thanks.

Leanne Kaufman:

We’ll wish them all the best.

Kathy Buckworth:

Thank you.

Leanne Kaufman:

Thanks, Kathy, for joining us today to talk about grandparents leaving a legacy. Not all legacies are the same, and why this matters beyond wealth.

You can find out more about Kathy Buckworth at kathybuckworth.com or find her podcast, Go To Grandma and Stories from the Green Bench wherever you get your podcast.

If you enjoyed this episode and you’d like to help support, please share this podcast with others, post about it on social media, or leave a rating and review. Until next time, I’m Leanne Kaufman. Thank you for joining us.

Outro speaker:

Whether you are planning for your own estate, the needs of your family or business, or you are an executor for a loved one’s estate, we can help guide you, simplify the complex, and support your life’s vision. Partner with RBC Royal Trust and ensure your legacy will thrive for generations to come. Leave a legacy, not a burden™. Visit rbc.com/royaltrust.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of Matters Beyond Wealth. If you would like more information about RBC Royal Trust, please visit our website at rbc.com/royaltrust.

RBC Royal Trust refers to either or both of the Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and or The Royal Trust Company. RBC Royal Trust and RBC Wealth Management are business segments of the Royal Bank of Canada. Please visit https://www.rbc.com/legal for further information on the entities that are member companies of RBC Wealth Management. ®/™ Trademark(s) of Royal Bank of Canada. RBC and Royal Trust are registered trademarks of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under licence. © Royal Bank of Canada 2023. All rights reserved.

This podcast is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide any advice or endorse or recommend any content or third parties referenced in this publication. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subject matter discussed.

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