The “Baby Boomer” generation is not only one of the largest in American history, but it’s also believed to be the wealthiest. It is estimated that Americans over the age of 70 own $15 trillion in assets. With Boomers arriving at an age where estate planning is—or, at least, should be—front-and-center in their financial lives, the question of transferring wealth to their heirs and beneficiaries is one that can no longer be ignored.
If you’ve already started thinking about the best way to transfer your assets to your loved ones, you may have found that the process is more than a little intimidating. Wealth transfer planning is a highly involved and complicated process. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is key to facilitate the successful transfer of intergenerational wealth. There are, however, a few key considerations you should be aware of before you meet with a professional:
- Establish Clear Communication with Your Family. The first step in wealth transfer planning is to speak with all your family members, and be sure they know what your intentions are when it comes to distributing your assets. Transferring wealth can be a touchy subject, but it is important that everyone is on the same page so there will not be any surprises or conflicts after you pass away.
- Make a List of All Your Assets and Beneficiaries. Chances are you own a wide variety of assets, including financial accounts, investments, and insurance policies, all of which are subject to different rules when it comes to passing them on to your beneficiaries. To make sure there is no confusion, it is a good idea to list all of your assets, as well as to designate a specific beneficiary for each of them. Being as thorough as possible now will help prevent conflict (or a messy probate process) later.
- Be Sure Your Legal Documentation is in Order. Whether you decide to use a will or to set up a trust when it comes to transferring wealth, it is essential that you keep all you documentation up-to-date. This is especially true with a will; your relationship with some of your beneficiaries may change as life goes on, and you want to be sure that your named beneficiaries are the people who you want to receive your assets.
- Establish an Emergency Fund. Although you may feel confident in your financial position now, unexpected charges can always pop up and threaten your financial stability. Once you retire, it is a good idea to establish an emergency fund, so you have cash on hand to cover any unforeseen events.
- Work Closely with an Experienced Financial Advisor or Attorney. Because of the complicated nature of wealth transfer planning, it is unlikely (and certainly not recommended) that you’ll be able to manage your estate planning on your own. Hiring an estate lawyer or a financial advisor with experience in transferring wealth will put you on the right path and ensure that your loved ones will receive their intended inheritance in the best way possible.
The best way to decide between these two options is to work with a legal expert who can help you determine which is right for you based on your wants and needs. At Barry Law, LLC, we have years of experience with all kinds of trusts. Contact us today to get started protecting your future!