Many of us labor a lifetime to build up our assets and fight for causes that matter to us. Few things are more fulfilling than the thought of sharing wealth and legacy with our family.
Of course, it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality, but careful planning can mitigate against the two primary risks.
As you’ve probably already noticed, estate planning can be challenging - not only for the “traditional” nuclear family but, also for the millions of “non-traditional” families. The blended family scenarios are virtually endless - a spouse with independent wealth that marries a younger new spouse, children from a previous marriage but no children from this marriage, children from a previous marriage plus children from this new marriage, and more. Sometimes, an estate “plan” of a blended family seems less like a plan and more of a grab bag of joint and solely owned assets with no clear plan about who gets what and why.
Although the increased complexity and variety of family structures makes effective planning more challenging, the need is greater now than ever before. Of course, no single newsletter could ever cover all the potential issues, so always feel free to contact us whenever we can offer assistance to you or your clients.
How to Protect Your Heirs and Your Legacy
from Bad Decisions and Outside Influences
Estate planning is an important and everlasting gift you can give your family. And setting up a smooth inheritance isn't as hard as you might think. - Suze Orman
After working diligently for decades to achieve your financial goals, you understandably want to preserve your gains and leave an enduring legacy to the next generation. For better or for worse, though, your heirs have free will. Even while you’re alive and very much capable of directly communicating with your children, favored charities and others, you might already be uncomfortably familiar with the limits of your influence.
As you contemplate the future, it’s easy to ponder disagreeable scenarios. What if your adult child squanders the business you leave her by getting involved with a dubious partner or burning through cash reserves and taking speculative risks? What if the non-profit that you co-founded mismanages the property that you leave it or runs afoul of legal issues?
When it comes to estate planning, you probably think of wills and trusts. But there are three other estate planning documents you should think about to make your plan complete:
A Living Will
A Healthcare Directive, also called an Advance Directive, Medical or Healthcare Power of Attorney, or Designation of Healthcare Surrogate
A Financial Power of Attorney
“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Murphy’s Law applies itself with surprising vigor in the estate planning field. If your clients are leaving outright, no-strings-attached inheritances or gifts to their beneficiaries, they are practically inviting disaster. But, there’s hope. A properly designed estate plan protects a client’s beneficiary and can help grow your business.
How Proper Planning Benefits Your Practice
An inheritance that goes outright and into the pocket of a spouse, child, or grandchild will very likely leave your office. On the other hand, an inheritance left inside a trust (such as lifetime discretionary trust, more on that below) has a better chance of staying because:
• If assets managed by you are left outright, they can easily be transferred away after the client dies.
• You have time to build relationships with the beneficiaries while your client is still alive and well.
• Your client may be inclined to recommend that the trust be managed by you when you are proactive in the planning process and demonstrate that you have expertise in overseeing the investments for lifetime trusts.
Understanding the benefits of a lifetime discretionary trust helps build your client’s confidence and trust in your relationship. Ultimately, this positions you as the trusted advisor for the client’s heirs.