There are times when simple estate planning techniques may not be sufficient to meet your planning needs. While traditional planning can be an effective way to avoid probate and reduce estate tax liability, it doesn’t always provide the full range of planning options you need to more effectively preserve both financial and non-financial assets. If your family’s legacy planning requires something more than avoiding probate and estate taxes, you need a more comprehensive plan that utilizes more advanced tools and strategies. To provide your family with that comprehensive planning, you need professional legacy wealth management assistance.
What is Legacy Wealth Planning?
Legacy wealth planning is similar in some respects to traditional estate planning, but even more extensive. It involves the creation of a plan that accomplishes a variety of interrelated goals, including:
- Effective management of your family’s wealth during your lifetime. That encompasses not only management of your real estate assets and other elements of financial wealth, but retirement accounts, business holdings, insurance policies, investments, and more.
- The development of an efficient strategy to distribute those assets when you pass away, without extensive delays or the loss of any portion of the estate’s overall value.
- Incapacity planning that ensures that your wealth is protected against guardianship expenses and other threats if you are incapacitated by injury or illness.
- The development of a strategy to ensure that your family legacy is passed on. That legacy extends well beyond financial concerns, and includes your family traditions and values, core commitments to your community, and other important behaviors and beliefs that help to define your family’s character and identity.
How Is It Different Than Other Estate Planning?
Traditional estate planning focuses primarily on the core financial concerns surrounding any estate. It includes strategies designed to ensure that assets get passed on to your heirs using tools like the Last Will and Testament, trusts, joint tenancy, and beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement vehicles, and bank accounts. The emphasis of this planning is usually focused on preserving as much asset value as possible, while ensuring a smooth transfer of ownership to heirs.
Legacy planning goes well beyond that traditional estate planning, however, and encompasses even those non-financial assets that are so important to your family identity. Every family has a history and most have traditions, values, and wisdom that has been accumulated over the course of many generations. If those things are important to your family, then you need a way to ensure that they are passed on to future generations. Without a plan to accomplish that goal, you run the risk of losing those intangible assets when you pass away.
Legacy wealth planning can provide a means for ensuring that heirlooms, family stories, and other important family assets are transferrable to your children, grandchildren, and future generations on down the line. This planning provides the means needed to secure those important legacy concerns so that the accumulated sum of your family wisdom, wealth, and traditions doesn’t get lost to history.
The Role of the Family Wealth Trust
The family wealth trust is a central feature of legacy wealth planning, and deals with legacy issues in a different way than most revocable or irrevocable trusts. Instead of just being concerned with distribution of assets and the avoidance of probate, the family wealth trust is designed to provide benefits over the course of your life, while safeguarding your wealth so that it not only benefits your family, but future generations as well.
The family wealth trust does provide for many of the same benefits that you get with other trusts or a will, but offers even more protection for your family assets. For example:
- Your trust can provide for a complete wealth transfer after you die, or facilitate trust management that protects that trust’s value for use by your current and future heirs.
- The family wealth trust can secure your trust assets in the event of incapacitation and ensure that they are properly managed while you are indisposed and unable to handle your own financial decisions.
- Your trust can also be used to minimize estate taxes, provide protection against creditors and litigants, and help to ensure that wasteful heirs don’t squander the family wealth when you die.
- The trust can help you to keep wealth in the family, ensuring that it’s not lost to things like divorce. That can be an important part of ensuring that your children don’t lose their inheritance later in life.
- The Family wealth trust can provide the flexibility you need to accomplish many other estate planning goals that a traditional will or revocable trust cannot.
Do You Have to Be Rich to Benefit from this Planning?
Many American families tend to shy away from trusts, viewing them as instruments that only benefit the super-wealthy. The reality is, though, that a legacy wealth trust and planning efforts can be used by any family with assets that need to be protected from probate and other expenses. This planning is also essential for any family that needs to avoid the loss of treasured heirlooms, history, and traditions. Your family memories and values are every bit as worthy of protection as any piece of property, but they don’t always receive the care and attention they deserve when you rely on simpler and more traditional forms of estate planning. Your legacy wealth planning attorney can help you to safeguard everything that your family holds dear.
The fact is that simple, traditional estate planning may be enough for some families, but it doesn’t meet everyone’s needs. Sometimes, you have more to preserve than just your physical assets and wealth. All those unique bits of wisdom and history that help to make your family what it is are every bit as worthy of protection. At Kulas & Crawford, Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys, our legacy wealth management attorneys can help you with that comprehensive estate planning to ensure that your financial and non-financial assets enjoy the protection they deserve during your lifetime, while getting passed on properly to your heirs when you die. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us online or call us today at (772) 398-0720.