If you have significant insurance policies, investment plans, stock portfolios or other assets, have you gotten an estate plan together in order to make certain that the wealth your family has now is protected for the future generation?
If you're like most people, the answer to that question is, "No." It's probably somewhere on the list of things you need to eventually do, but over a third of people with significant assets admit that they don't even have a will. Only 26 percent of those folks with a substantial net worth have a complete strategy ready to transfer wealth to their heirs.
Overall, that means that 74 percent of the people out there with wealth that they want to see go to their heirs have taken all the steps they need to take in order to sustain the family wealth going forward.
That's a dismal figure to consider. To avoid being part of it, experts suggest that you do the following:
Start discussing your estate plans with your spouse or significant other
Make sure that you are both on the same page as far as how you want things to happen after you are gone so that you can iron out your difference before you commit a plan to paper.
Get that estate plan on paper
Talk to your attorney about various ways that wealth can be transferred (including making use of yearly cash gifts that fall below the gift-tax line) now and in the future.
Consider the need for trusts
Trusts are excellent vehicles for both protecting wealth from heirs that aren't used to handling it and from taxation.
Talk about handling wealth with your heirs
Experts emphasize that you don't need to do this in one big sitting or in a formal setting. Make it a regular part of conversation so that you're passing wealth-management lessons on to your heirs.
Wealth management has become more challenging in recent years, especially because the nature of the nuclear family has changed so much. It isn't uncommon for people to marry, divorce, remarry and have children and stepchildren they love equally. Modern estate planning has kept up, but it often requires professional help to get it right.
Source: Wealthmanagement.com, "Planning for Modern Families," accessed Jan. 10, 2018