An Estate Planning Checklist to Facilitate Wealth Transfer

Studies have shown that 70% of family wealth is lost by the end of the second generation and 90% by the end of the third. 

Help your loved ones avoid becoming one of these statistics. You need to educate and update your heirs about your wealth transfer goals and the plan you have put in place to achieve these goals.

What Must You Communicate to Future Generations to Facilitate Transfer of Your Wealth?

You must communicate the following information to your family to ensure that they will have the information they need during a difficult time:

·       Net worth statement, or at the very minimum a broad overview of your wealth

·       Final wishes – burial or cremation, memorial services

·       Estate planning documents that have been created and what purpose they serve:

o   Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, Living Will – property management; avoiding guardianship; clarifying wishes regarding life-sustaining procedures

o   Revocable Living Trust – avoiding guardianship; keeping final wishes private; avoiding probate; minimizing delays, costs and bureaucracy

o   Last Will and Testament – a catch-all for assets not transferred into your Revocable Living Trust prior to death, or the primary means to transfer your wealth if you are not using a Revocable Living Trust

o   Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust – removing life insurance from your taxable estate; providing immediate access to cash

o   Advanced Estate Planning – protecting assets from creditors, predators, outside influences, and ex-spouses; charitable giving; minimizing taxes; creating dynasty trusts

·       Who will be in charge if you become incapacitated or die – agent named in your Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive; successor trustee of your Revocable Living Trust and other trusts you’ve created; personal representative named in your will

·       Benefits of lifetime discretionary trusts created for your heirs:

o   Fosters educational opportunities

o   Provides asset, divorce, and remarriage protection

o   Protects special needs beneficiaries (if properly drafted)

o   Allows for professional asset management

o   Minimizes estate taxes at each generation

o   Creates a lasting legacy for future generations

·       Overall goals and intentions for inheritance – what the money is, and is not, to be used for (in other words, education vs. charitable work vs. vacations vs. Ferraris vs. business opportunities vs. retirement), and who will be trustee of lifetime discretionary trusts created for your heirs and why you’ve selected them

·       Where important documents are located – this should include how to access your “digital” assets

·       Who your key advisors are and how to contact them


How Can Your Professional Advisors Help You Communicate Your Wealth Transfer Goals?                                          

Your professional advisors are well-positioned to help you discover your wealth priorities, goals, and objectives and then communicate this information to your heirs.  This, in turn, will prepare your heirs to receive your wealth instead of being left to figure it out on their own and, as statistics have shown, lose it all. 

We are available to assist you with figuring out your wealth transfer goals, putting a plan in place to achieve these goals, and effectively communicating this information to your loved ones.