A survey recently released by Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Investment Group –How Much Should I Give to My Family?– shows that the #1 concern of wealthy parents is that the inheritances they plan to leave their children will do more harm than good. Of the 206 high net worth parents surveyed, 91% said they plan to leave the lion’s share of their estate to their children. However, they expressed fear that giving too much would thwart their children from reaching their full potential. Almost two-thirds of the parents surveyed said they were somewhat concerned that an inheritance would have a negative impact on their children, especially when large sums were distributed without guidance or accountability. Yet only 29% said they have had a conversation with their children about their future inheritances.
If you share some of these concerns, you need to speak with Pierchoski Estate Law about when and how to leave your whole family wealth (not just your money) establishing a trust as part of a comprehensive legacy plan for your family.
In many cases, the best time to leave an inheritance to the next generation is while you are living, instead of waiting until death, because you can guide the inheritance to your children. Consider the example of Norman and Stephen Brooks. Twenty years ago Stephen came to Norman and asked him to support him to build a business that would bring youth to Costa Rica, and together they created a tour business and multi-property development that is now thriving.
Stephen couldn’t have done it on his own. And while Norman could have waited to pass Stephen’s inheritance to him until his death, Norman would have lost the opportunity to see that inheritance grow, not just financially, but on so many other levels as well. Today, Norman’s inheritance to Stephen is far bigger than anything he would have left at his death and both Stephen and Norman are benefitting from it greatly.
The only thing we would have recommended that Norman do differently would be that he would have given Stephen his living inheritance through a trust, rather than outright. As things stand, everything Stephen has created is in his own name, at risk from creditors, divorce, lawsuits and predators. If we could go back and change anything, we would recommend Norman set all that up for Stephen in a trust, providing airtight asset protection that Stephen could not provide to himself.
Since no two children are the same, you can set up more than one trust to tailor your gifts to each individual child. For example, if you have a child with special needs, you need to create a special needs trust to preserve assets for their benefit in a way that doesn’t disqualify them from important government benefits.
If you have a child with substance abuse problems, you can create a trust and name a trustee to make distributions according to your wishes. If you have a child in a bad marriage where divorce is a likelihood, you can put their inheritance into a trust where those assets are removed from marital property and cannot be touched by an ex-spouse.
If you have a child who is bad with money, you can create a trust to protect inherited assets from bankruptcy and creditors. Inheriting in trust provides important benefits that an outright inheritance does not.
We can help you plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.
To learn more make your appointment with Pierchoski Estate Law. Call 931-363.7222.