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.
Mr. Clyne is a Vice President, Wealth Advisor for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for delivering customized financial planning with an emphasis on the areas of risk management, investment and wealth transfer. He joined UMB in 2011 and has 11 years of experience in the financial services industry. He serves on St. Louis University Finance Department Advisory Board and Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts.
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