Wealth Transfer Planning 1 of 6
In our business of comprehensive financial planning, “wealth transfer,” “estate planning,” “legacy planning” are all different words for the same process; defining and documenting how you will pass assets to others in retirement or at death so as to have control and leverage over these decisions.
So often people believe that wealth transfer planning doesn’t matter to them and only applies to the ultra high net worth population. In actuality, planning and documenting wishes can help just about everyone in retirement with control and leverage. And it takes so much more than just a will. Yes, a will and a health care directive do help you keep control over health care and end of life decisions. But control is about 3 additional things:
- Control over how your assets are divided and transferred
- Control over conditions required for receiving your assets
- Control over how and when taxes are paid
Why is control and leverage so important? The fact is there are rules on how money transfers and how taxes are paid when we pass away. And in the absence of you outlining your wishes appropriately, the government gets to decide how to handle your estate. Their defaults may not be what you want to see happen.
So start by thinking about your own personal situation. Does it fit simple rules, or might you need to consider taking more control over the structure of your wealth transfer plan? For example:
- Are you a blended family? Does leaving money to your spouse indirectly disinherit your children from a prior marriage?
- Own a business? Did you know that what happens when you die is completely dependent on the structure of your business? Some businesses cease, others don’t.
- Do you have illiquid assets, like property or land or a farm? Will it need to be sold when you pass away in order to pay estate taxes and fees?
- Do you have lots of different assets titled lots of different ways? The more there is, the more likely Uncle Sam is going to end up a meaningful beneficiary of your estate.
In its simplest form, control involves having the right estate documents in place to create a distribution strategy for your assets. As I just eluded to, some situations demand a more sophisticated wealth transfer plan that could include family trusts, insurance trusts, other tax and gifting strategies, detailed financial powers of attorney and specific health care directives. Once these concerns are addressed, you can turn your attention to leverage. This really deals with turning a dollar today into potentially more dollars down the road.
In summary, this series will focus on how control and leverage can better align your wealth transfer plan with your goals, and not leave the IRS as a bigger beneficiary than necessary. Follow us over the course of the next 8 weeks, as we discuss multiple strategies one might consider for added control and potential leverage in their wealth transfer plan including gifting, trusts and life insurance.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax or legal issues with a qualified tax or legal professional. Haas Financial Group, US Financial Advisors and LPL Financial do not provide tax and/or legal advice or services.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA and SIPC. Investment advice offered through U.S. Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor. U.S. Financial Advisors and Haas Financial Group are separate entities from LPL Financial.
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