Inter-generational estate planning is important. This type of planning is about more than just helping one generation build as much wealth as possible. These plans help prepare heirs to both manage and preserve those assets into the future for long-lasting enjoyment. Below are five steps that can facilitate successful inter-generational estate planning.
- Get the family together: While family dynamics can change, this should not prevent you from taking some time to map out an estate plan strategy for your family. Ideal goals across generations should be discussed in a group setting, on a preset date and location. Key concerns to be addressed during the meeting may include deciding what objectives to prioritize, such as having income available for retirement, covering educational expenses for younger generations, the ability to access capital quickly, and allocating resources to mitigate emergencies.
- Consider the full scope of your assets: When trying to establish a legacy for generations to come, an important starting point is to consider the entirety of your assets. These might include personal items such as jewelry, art, or collectibles; insurance policy benefits; financial resources, including investment and bank accounts; and real property such as primary homes or rentals.
- Address overarching family needs: During the meeting, it is important that all parties express their individual needs. Things to consider with respect to each member of the family include their basic estate planning goals, health and long-term care concerns, lifetime gifting strategies, and charitable giving plans. For those families with a closely-held business, transitioning the family business is a crucial discussion that must occur.
- Explore different estate planning tools: There are several options for how to structure your wealth to meet long-term, multi-generational goals for the unique needs of your family. While a family trust can be quite useful in estate planning, a basic trust may not meet the needs of the entire family. Other options include using insurance products to provide income for particular beneficiaries, creating generation-skipping trusts, or using retirement account planning. When designing the right strategy for your family, it is important that you work with trusted advisors who can walk you through all of the financial and legal options available to you.
- Take stock and regularly follow up: After all the strategies have been discussed and family needs addressed concerning the generations, keep the plan moving forward. This may involve having regular family meetings with estate planning and financial professionals, redefining family members’ needs and roles as situations change, and addressing additional concerns as they arise.
Seek Professional Advice
It is important to understand that building inter-generational wealth is a continual process. Make sure to consult with us to understand the tools available to you and how you can plan for the financial security of several generations to come.
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Most people understand that having some sort of an estate plan is a good thing. However, many of us don’t take the steps to have an estate plan prepared because we don’t understand the nuances between wills and trusts –and dying without either.
Here’s what will generally happen if you die, intestate (without a will or trust), with a will, and with a trust. For this example, we’re assuming you have children, but no spouse:
- Intestate. If you should die intestate, your estate will go through probate and all the world will know what you owned, what you owed, and who got what. Your mortgage company, car loan company, and credit card companies will all seek payment on balances you owed at the time of your death.
After that, state law will decide who gets what and when.
- For example, your state’s intestate statute may mandate divvying up proceeds equally among your children.
- Your older children will get their shares immediately if they’ve attained adulthood.
- But, the court will appoint a guardian of its choosing to manage the money for your minor children until they become adults and possibly a separate guardian to raise your minor children.
- Shockingly, that guardian can charge a lot of money to manage the money for your minor children and be a total stranger -as can the guardian who raises your minor children.
- If you die without a valid will, the court, not you, will decide the futures of your minor children.
Keep in mind that since your death has been published to alert valid creditors, it’s possible for predators (fake creditors) to come forth and make demands for payment –even if they’re not owed anything.
The bottom line? Dying intestate allows state law and the court to make all the decisions on your behalf –regardless of what your intent might have been. Publicity is guaranteed.
2. Will. If you die with a valid will, your assets will still go through the probate process. However, after creditors have been satisfied, the remaining assets go to whom you’ve identified in your will.
- If you want to leave money to your children and name a guardian for the minor ones, the court will usually abide by your wishes.
- The same holds true if you specified that you wanted to give assets to a charity, your Aunt Betty, or your neighbor.
- Keep in mind that predatory creditors are still an issue as your death has been publicized. Even with a will, probate is a public process.
The bottom line? While a court oversees the process, having a will allows you to tell the court exactly how you want your estate to be handled. But, a public probate is still guaranteed.
3. Trust. If you’ve created a trust, you’ve taken control of your estate plan and your assets. Trust assets are not subject to the probate process and one of the most important benefits of trusts is that they are private. Although notices to creditors may be published, most of the other details (your assets, who is receiving what, etc.) remain private, helping your family minimize the risk of predators.
As part of the trust drafting process, you’ll have named a trustee to manage your estate, when you are no longer able to, and provide him or her with specific instructions on how your assets should be dispersed and when.
- One word of caution –trusts must be funded in order to bypass probate.
- Funding means that your assets have been re-titled in the name of your trust.
- Think of your trust as a bushel basket. You must put the apples into the basket just as you must put your assets into the trust for either to have value.
Even if you have a trust prepared, you still need a will to pour any assets inadvertently or intentionally left out of your trust and to name guardians for minor children. However, this type of will is much shorter and less complicated than one that is responsible for disposing of all of your assets to your beneficiaries.
The bottom line? Trusts allow you to maintain control of your assets through your chosen trustee, avoid probate, and leave specific instructions so that your children are taken care of –without receiving alump sum of money at an age where they are more likely to squander it or have it seized from them.
Don’t let the will versus trust controversy slow you down. Call our office today so we can answer any questions you may have and put together an estate plan that works for you and your family whether it be a will, trust, or both.
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In its simplest terms, a trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee holds and manages assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The trustee owns the assets, enters into contracts on behalf of the trust, manages the trust’s investments as its trustee, and follows the trust’s instructions on making distributions. A trustee can be one person, multiple people, or a company.
Duties of a Trustee
The duties of a trustee are many, as a trustee owes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust. Some of these duties include acting in good faith, exercising reasonable care in the administration of the trust funds, keeping proper books and records for the trust, carrying out the trust terms as laid out in the trust document, avoiding any conflicts of interest, and not personally benefiting from his or her position as a trustee -except as where provided by the trust document or under applicable law.
Benefits of Corporate Trustees
When you have a corporate trustee, as opposed to an individual trustee, the company is a trustee. The benefits of a corporate trustee include impartiality and professional judgment -unlike individual trustees who may be subject to family politics or favoritism. Moreover, managing trusts is the corporate trustee’s primary duty -as opposed to an individual trustee who can often have other personal, family, and career responsibilities that will serve as a constant distraction. Corporate trustees will likely have better recordkeeping habits which can be helpful in the caseof audits from the IRS or state tax agency. Finally, a corporate trustee, because it is a company, lives forever and cannot become incapacitated like a person. As a result, the succession of trustee authority is typically more predictable and smooth.
When you decide to set up a trust as part of your estate plan, know that you can do so as an individual or a corporate trustee. Each has its own advantages. If you need assistance in understanding this process, and choosing the right type of trustee for your particular situation, contact us today.
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