Talk is not cheap when it comes to family money
The most important concept to understand when transferring wealth is the communication plan. It may be difficult, but here’s why you need to focus on it.
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How to broach the subject of transferring wealth to your children and grandchildren
Money used to be a taboo topic—one your great-grandparents and grandparents would never consider discussing with the next generation. However, times have changed—and so has the thought on these conversations. People want to talk about it while they’re still able to, and there are many benefits to that.
Why the big shift? New wealth, complicated investing vehicles and legacy desires are a few reasons. Many people have seen the challenges that come with unexplained inheritance parameters and instructions. However, discussing your strategies with beneficiaries ahead of time can eliminate confusion, frustration and hurt feelings.
With money comes responsibility and expectations
Educating your beneficiaries on the responsibilities that come with inheriting wealth is important, particularly if you would like your wealth to live beyond the next generation. As you formulate strategies to leave your hard-earned assets to loved ones, you may wish to structure a plan that provides financial security for not only your immediate heirs, but theirs as well.
Start the conversation early
Your children need to be old enough to understand the information, but you can begin talking with them about areas like philanthropy as early as grade school. For example, if your family makes an annual donation, you can involve your children in choosing recipients. Discuss causes that are important to them. Maybe they love pets or want to help give other kids presents for the holidays. Talk about it and let them help pick who you support.
As your children enter the high school years, you can work with your financial advisor to help introduce fundamentals like budgeting and personal cash flow management. Then during their early to mid-20s, you can begin conversations about your estate plan.
Share the strategy
Wealth advisors, or financial planners, generally start the conversation with the older generation about how to share their estate planning details. This is one of the most significant services these advisors provide, because they assist in explaining the estate plan structure, and many times will facilitate the conversation about the strategy.
Inheritors have a lot of questions when discussing their trusts and the strategy behind them, sometimes misunderstanding the intent. Wealth advisors are neutral parties who explain that securing assets until a certain age is a strategic step. Whether it’s done to ensure measured wealth disbursement or to enable the inheritor to mature before accessing funds, these decisions are made from a comprehensive planning standpoint.
Intergenerational wealth transfer is an extremely complicated process—it can be complicated to execute and emotions are always a factor. Talk with your wealth advisor—they can proactively counsel and assist in both building your strategy and communicating amongst generations. Having these conversations can be the difference in you leaving a gift and establishing a legacy.
Do you need a wealth advisor?
Do you need a wealth advisor (also known as financial planner‡)? You might think that only the very wealthy need this type of expert advice. If you’re interested in investing, whether it’s for retirement, education or to leave a legacy, it is recommended that you work with a financial planning professional.
Whether it’s your first time talking to a financial planning professional or your 10th, you want to ensure your advisor is taking the time to ask the sometimes difficult questions to plan the best future for you.
Basic financial planning questions
Most customers focus on questions like:
- Will I have enough to retire?
- Will my children’s education be taken care of?
- What if I get sick?
These are important topics to cover, but an in-depth financial/estate planning will include more than these basic questions.
Do I need a trust?
- manage assets
- protect assets
- facilitate charitable gifts
- transfer of monetary assets or property
If the answer is yes, your advisor should assist you with making sure your assets are titled appropriately, or given the correct ownership recognition. You wouldn’t want to spend several thousand dollars for an attorney to prepare a trust document, only to find out that the assets aren’t titled appropriately. If so, the trust doesn’t get funded and your estate plan isn’t carried out to your intentions.
What about insurance?
Your advisor should also discuss the topic of insurance with you. Customers and advisors sometimes avoid this question, as it can be an uncomfortable conversation. Most insurance is used in the case of a disaster, accident, illness or death, and these are not pleasant subjects to discuss. You want an advisor who will understand the sensitivities of these topics, but will not avoid the subject. Insurance is an important part of a financial plan and it can be helpful to your family’s future.
You should look for an advisor who will build a relationship with you. If they work to create more than a business partnership, it’s likely there will be more open dialogue between you both. Advisors who are thorough in their work and ask the hard questions will be able to build a solid financial/estate plan for you, your family and their future generations.
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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.