The Financial Planning Blog
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Make the Most of Your Financial Legacy As you get older, you might start thinking about how you can pass your lifetime of collective wisdom, values, and assets to the next generation. Most parents hope their kids will be successful, and in turn also pass wisdom, values–-and wealth to their own children. When it comes to assets, a transfer between generations opens a gaping hole that can swallow much of what you’ve worked for. The transfer gives federal and state tax authorities the opportunity to levy and collect estate and gift taxes, shrinking what’s actually left.
Your Financial Wellbeing Many people take more time and care planning their vacations than their financial and estate plan. They leaf through travel guides and find the best rates online, all in anticipation of a week or two in their future. Because we’re human, planning for short-term fun often trumps long-term gain. We’re not certain about our future—a retirement that we may not have saved enough for, taxes, and risks. Combined, all of this causes us to lose enthusiasm and the courage to devote commitment, energy, and urgency to our planning.
What happens when couples who are working to build their legacy aren’t on the same page about what’s best for their family? How do you bring two different perspectives together? In our practice, we see many kinds of estate planning disconnects. It happens to couples who are happy in their marriage and lifestyle as well as to those who aren’t. So, why the lack of alignment?
Did you know you can be happier and healthier by simply reflecting on what you’re grateful for? A recent research study by psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, asked 3 groups of participants to write a few sentences each week focused on a specific topic. One group wrote about what they were grateful for, a second group wrote about what irritated or angered them, and a third group wrote about events in their lives that either positively or negatively affected them.
There are many myths surrounding legacy planning, but one of the biggest is children fighting over money and possessions. In our practice we find that it’s not things they fight over, but what those things mean to everyone involved. Most of the families we meet with look for fulfillment beyond the material possessions that money affords. Memories, shared experiences, and dreams fulfilled give them more satisfaction. However, when possessions carry many memories, disputes can happen. If you’re a parent or grandparent it’s important for you to consider building your living legacy not only attached to assets, but also to the personal values and memories they represent.
"The Greatest Irony in Family Estate Planning" I always find the greatest irony in family estate planning is that people tend to think more about financial assets and give little thought to the personal side of preparing heirs. Some clients just want to be “done with it” and not look at estate planning again. Looking through plans, I see they represent a lot of time and legal work. What’s often missing is the story behind it all. How did the family get to this point? What is the backstory of their pain, failures, victories and joys?