Evaluating The Best Strategies To Achieve Your Family Wealth Transfer Goals

What is the best way to achieve my long-term goals for passing wealth to my spouse and/or future generations? How can we most effectively meet our philanthropic goals? We did some estate planning a long time ago – is it still set up the right way to achieve our goals now that our assets have grown and the laws have changed? What are the different ways I can try to avoid estate taxes?

Even after you’ve put together an estate plan, you should review it from time to time based on changes in your life. We work with your attorneys or recommend specialists to work with you as we assess your current situation, and we create new approaches to meet changing needs and regulatory requirements for your estate. We have the expertise to help you wade through all of the acronyms and strategies in order to understand the approach best suited for your family. If applicable, we can also assist you with managing the appropriate trust services related to the entities created or already in place.

We have deep expertise in estate planning strategies, although for many families we may advise against making it more complicated than necessary. We understand the strategies available to wealthy families and can help you focus on the most beneficial approach for your unique situation.

Knowing you have a properly prepared plan in place, one that contains your instructions and will protect your family, will give you and your family peace of mind.

What Are The Key Steps For Estate Planning?

As with everything, our financial advisors will first focus on identifying your goals and helping you see via your wealth forecast how your current path might look in terms of your total estate size and likely taxes.  The next step is to assess your current estate plan, including identifying how the money would flow today and in the future based on your existing plan.  For many families this is an eye opener, especially when using future dollars via the wealth forecast projections.  We also review your current beneficiaries and fiduciaries to ensure that those are still appropriate.  Finally, we work with you to identify potential strategies to replace or supplement your existing estate plan that could potentially help you better achieve your goals or target new goals discussed during the process.  We then work with your estate attorney (or help you find a good fit with an attorney if needed) to execute the game plan.  We do not write your documents but we are there with you to help ensure that you understand what is being created and why.

I Already Have A Will – Why Is Estate Planning Important Now?

Most of our clients join us with some form of will and other documents in place.  Some clients think that once they have a last will and testament (and maybe a power of attorney document or two) that their estate planning duties are complete.  However, those estate planning documents are often old – with potentially very different results likely to occur than what the family may now want today.  We find beneficiaries that are wrong (let’s make sure the former spouse is not still getting your IRA) or custodians of the kids that need changing.  We discover language that made perfect sense when drafted 10 years ago, but now may need tweaking given the changes in federal tax and state tax laws since that date.  And most importantly, we often find strategies missing that were not needed back then but now may be more relevant given on the ongoing growth in family wealth and the path ahead to even higher net worth results.  Our role as financial advisor is to not only help you get things up to date and current now, but to continue to revisit your estate plan with you over time as the laws change and as your situation changes.  We want to keep things as simple as possible while still achieving your goals, and because we are not your attorney we have no motivation to pursue complex documents or elegant solutions.

Understanding The Role of Trusts In Your Plan

How do I make sure that my kids cannot just go spend their inheritance in a weekend?  What happens if one of my children get divorced after I am gone and the other spouse takes half of their inheritance?  How do I provide guidance (or control) regarding how the kids or others spend my inheritance?  All of these are really important and common family questions that our financial advisors hear often.  These conversations often lead to a conversation about trusts and the role they can play in your estate plan.  Do I need a living trust?  Or a special needs trust? Can a trust help our family avoid the public probate legal process? Our financial advisors can help guide you through the details of trusts like trustees, distribution rules, distribution ages, beneficiaries, powers of appointment, and all kinds of other important little details that can help ensure a trust is a valued part of your comprehensive financial plan in sync with your goals.

Estate Planning Strategies For Minimizing Estate Taxes

In our experience most funerals do not feature a trophy ceremony where they celebrate how much the person was able to avoid paying estate taxes!  However, we know this topic is important to many families.  Our Homrich Berg financial advisors work with you to identify the strategies that can help you minimize estate taxes but also stay aligned with your overall goals.  Sometimes estate attorneys have a sole focus on reducing estate taxes to the point where they may push strategies that achieve that goal but potentially do not stay aligned with other family goals.  We want you to understand the pros and cons of potential legal, investment, and insurance strategies, including how those strategies affect your personal wealth forecast today and in the future.

Overview of Estate Planning Services We Provide

The list below outlines some of the key estate planning services your Homrich Berg financial advisors can help you navigate to achieve your estate planning and overall financial goals:

  • Estate Plan Basics Review
  • Advanced Estate Planning
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Trust Strategies
  • Estate Tax Minimization Strategies
  • Insurance Strategies Linked To Estate Planning