Would you like your wealth to stay in your family for future generations? Would you like your future generations to understand and respect what it takes to accumulate the wealth you did over your lifetime? Do you want your philanthropic values instilled upon your future generations? Is leaving a legacy important to you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then creating a wealth transfer plan (WTP) is something you could consider. (For more, see Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die.)
What is a Wealth Transfer Plan?
A WTP is incorporated within your comprehensive estate planning and is comprised of three parts:
- The wish list, containing your personal goals, values and desires that you would like to be carried out for/by your future generations.
- An implementation outline listing the steps that are necessary to satisfy the wish list.
- A personal letter written by you to your future generations in which you express your goals, rationale and desires regarding your intentions, all in your own words. This is not a legal document, just an opportunity for you to speak from your heart about the decisions you’ve made.
When working with clients to create their wish list we frequently help them dive deeper into what exactly they want to accomplish and why. We have found that understanding one’s motivation provides great insight that aids us in crafting an efficient plan to meet those desires. Once we understand these goals and desires, we then coordinate with attorneys and accountants to strategize and create the legal documents necessary to best accomplish your goals. Once everything is put into place legally, our clients draft their personal letter. Again, this letter is their opportunity to explain their decisions set forth in the legal documents.
How to Get Started
Starting the process is not always easy. Thinking about one’s mortality and sharing very personal desires can be uncomfortable. We know what it takes to create a WTP, and understand which questions to ask to help you create your wish list. Our clients have told us that going through this process has been rewarding, and they had a sense of pride that they could do this for their future generations. (For more, see: 6 Estate Planning Must-Haves.)
Our advice is to work with an advisor who fully understands and has created wealth transfer plans, because when addressing your legacy you want things done thoroughly.
Can I protect my future generations from predators and/or divorce?
We have been able to help several our clients in this area with the assistance of a seasoned attorney. While it is impossible to protect someone from all negative situations, a skilled attorney can craft the right legal documents that can minimize the potential risks. It is important to remember, however, that if there are too many protections added into a plan it might make it excessively difficult to accomplish your original desires.
Do I have to include all my family and/or future generations in my WTP?
We understand that family dynamics can make planning a challenge. Your WTP is dedicated to carrying out your wishes, not what someone else wants you to do. The personal letter section of the WTP is not only a place for you to describe your wishes and motivation, but can be a place for you to also address why you made some of the decisions that you did.
How long does it take to complete a WTP?
Creating a WTP is a process and depending on how quickly you determine your wish list and the complexity of what is required to meet those goals it could be accomplished in an afternoon or take many months. We advise clients to take it slow and spend some time living with your initial wish list to see if there are modifications you might want to make. This is why it is never too early to get started with your WTP because having time to feel things out and make changes could be very beneficial and make you feel more comfortable when everything is complete. You don’t want to engage an attorney to create documents only to have them redraft them with changes.
We believe and have seen firsthand that the benefits of having a WTP greatly outweigh any uncomfortably during the creation process. Not only can you ensure that your legacy is carried out how you wish, but you are also taking what can be a heavy burden off of your loved ones when the time comes to implement such a plan. There is nothing to lose in preparing for the future, and the process itself can be rewarding and make you feel secure through your later years in life. (For more from this author, see: When to Talk to Your Kids about Finances.)