Creating a sustainable future for your family’s wealth presents a myriad of challenges.
Through our work with multigenerational families, we’ve found these challenges can be bucketed into three main categories: implementing an estate plan, educating children about wealth and preparing children to inherit wealth. To address these situations, we are providing some insights that may help reduce stress during the wealth transfer process.
IMPLEMENTING AN ESTATE PLAN
This is the step most people think of immediately when it comes to protecting intergenerational wealth — and for good reason. The ideal estate plan allows for estate tax savings while positioning the assets to be protected, not only for the family matriarch and/or patriarch but for future generations. An estate plan inevitably requires these figures at the top of a family to relinquish some control of their assets, transferring them to heirs at the appropriate time.
At Waldron, our in-depth approach endeavors to learn the family’s wants and needs, meeting the family where they currently are in pursuit of those goals, before we take them where they want to be through a number of customized strategies to preserve and grow wealth. In just one example, setting up a beneficiary defective inheritor’s trust allows a primary beneficiary to serve as trustee and still have some control of any assets he or she sells from the trust without any immediate federal income tax consequences. Ultimately, the trust moves on to the primary beneficiary’s children once he or she passes on. However, even with the proper plan in place, children must still understand how to properly handle the inherited wealth.
DISCUSSING WEALTH WITH CHILDREN
It’s one thing for children to know their family is wealthy and, someday, they will receive an inheritance. It’s another thing — and far more important — to know how that wealth is relevant to them personally. The key to nurturing the latter point is communication and active participation among all generations. Most families don’t put as much emphasis on education, meaning rising generations often don’t have a strong grasp of how much wealth a family truly has and how it is allocated, so when the time comes for them to be matriarchs and patriarchs, they repeat the cycle by not communicating as well as they should with their own heirs. Our wealth management experts devote significant time to an educational process that includes working closely with next-generation heirs to develop a thorough understanding of the assets they will receive, budgeting and cashflow management, as well as setting investment objectives, tax planning and estate planning. This education intuitively creates expectations and priorities for future heirs, making them better custodians of the family’s wealth.
PREPARING CHILDREN TO INHERIT WEALTH
One of the critical concepts high-net worth families must understand when preparing the next generation for inheritance is that responsibility is learned over time. Disclosure about wealth, at least at a high level, should begin after children leave college, and by the time they reach 30, there should no secrets.
Preparing the next generation, however, does not necessarily mean preparing them for the family business. Few children are immediately ready to start or run a business of their own — if they even want to do so. Encourage heirs to explore their passions and career interests, all while continuing to educate them on the family’s finances and how it is relevant to them. When the time comes for them to inherit, they will be ready to incorporate the new assets into their own situation — and then prepare their own children to inherit wealth.
Download our estate planning infographic to see just how quickly wealth can deplete without the proper oversight.