Essential Elements of a Successful Family Wealth Transfer
It is inevitable; we get older every day. The time to begin the planning for the next generation is now. The complexities of the family and the amount of money moving to the next generation can help determine how much time and effort will be required to ensure success for future generations. The creation of wealth bares a new set of responsibilities. If you would like the transfer of your wealth to benefit the next generation, then you need to consider involving your family early. Each person’s goals, values, and ambitions might not align, but this is a time to find common ground. For success it will be important for each generation to understand each other’s perspectives; square peg, round hole – futile.
Family conversations regarding money and how the next generation will handle an inheritance practically, are difficult to say the least. Talking about estate planning, retirement planning, elder care and what will happen to investments is not an easy discussion, but it is paramount to ensuring that a family’s wealth is protected before a transfer takes place. In this article we identify some of the key issues involved in family wealth transfers and the emotional and practical aspects of the process.
TALK - Family Money Meetings
• Talk - Have family discussions about money long before they are critical
• Ask - Ask as many questions as you can think of-no matter how tiny
• Listen - Listen to each other and be understanding of one another’s wants, needs and emotions
• Keep it up - Continue the conversation- it doesn’t need to only happen once
SO WHAT ARE WE DISCUSSING?
Goals and Objectives. Having a complete understanding of each participant’s goals and objectives for their lives. Keep in mind that it is possible that some parties may have already spent a great deal of time thinking about this while other may not have. This is an opportunity to get everyone on the same page. The creators of the wealth may have some expectations that must be communicated to ensure a sound succession. A financial advisor would be very beneficial at this juncture. As a mediator, it can help everyone gain clarity on the future and reduce the stresses that may come as a result of not knowing. All parties should be prepared to discuss any concerns about these plans. If the parents, for example, are planning to retire abroad how will the family get together and who will care for them in the event of serious illness? If one child of a few does not wish to participate in the family business how do you adjust? Is there a legacy that is important to the creators of the wealth?
Estate Plan. This is about having all estate planning documents in order and up to date. Parents should make decisions about their care in the event they become incapacitated. Who would care for them? Who would have powers of attorney over their assets? Who is the executor or trustee of their estate in the event of their death? From the children’s point of view, they might suggest the best family member to handle each of these tasks. Factors might include physical proximity to their parents and who is best in dealing with money issues. The children will need to ensure that any powers given in their parents’ documents align with their own.
Key Documents and digital Assets. It is important that everyone knows where key documents and papers are located. Parents should make a list of their key documents and papers and where they are located. In our digital age it is also important to know the logins and passwords for all critical accounts, document servers, social media pages, etc. Children can help their parents determine what documents are in place and which may need updating or creation.
HOW WE CAN HELP?
A trusted financial advisor can act as a facilitator of a conversation. It is important that the conversation stay on topic, and not allow personal differences to get in the way. Remember their will likely be gaps that must be filled, experience and knowledge from the advisor will prove valuable in doing so. If there are assumptions being made from either the parents or the children, those assumptions can be clarified or organized into plans, goals, and solutions so that they are no longer unresolved.
Intra-generational wealth transfers are each unique to the circumstances of each family. A financial advisor can act as a sounding board for ideas, goals and values surrounding the wealth transfer. For the children, financial advisors can help them understand the issues involved with the wealth transfer and some questions to ask so that they can gain clarity and feel more secure in the process.
A financial advisor can also be the perfect person to help moderate and facilitate a family financial conversation. As a disinterested third party they are detached from the emotional issues that are inherent in these types of conversations. As experienced financial professionals who have seen a number of different family situations, they can offer ideas that the parents and the family may not have considered.
Financial Advisors have these discussions often. We understand that a wealth transfer discussion should be about making sure that the parent’s needs and goals are met before considering what, if anything will be transferred to the next generation. This includes their retirement goals and that proper care is provided for their later years.
SINE QUA NON
Communication, family money conversations can be difficult but they are vital to properly executing a parent’s wishes in terms of the eventual transfer of their wealth to their children. A trusted financial advisor can be a help in facilitating and moderating these family discussions as well as in guiding them through the entire estate planning process. We encourage all of our clients to have ongoing family discussion regarding money issues and wealth transfers. And we are always here to listen and offer advice should the need arise.