If you are like many people approaching or currently in their retirement years, you consider your legacy to be one of the most important elements of your planning. It is a question that looms large: What will you ultimately leave behind?
Your heirs will generally want to do the right thing, but they must have a framework to act upon your wishes. For example, if you want a certain piece of antique furniture to be passed to your daughter, you must make your intentions clear for that to happen. With proper estate planning, you can provide that direction, while minimizing taxes and fees and protecting your privacy.
I have borne witness to cases in which estates were handled improperly. Incorrect documentation can cause estate settlements to drag on for years. Meanwhile, the heirs become increasingly frustrated. It is far better to be highly specific about your wishes and to make sure that every detail is meticulously addressed. Your children may remember you as quite the stickler, but they will be smiling fondly as they reminisce.
Planning of course, must deal with the management of your estate and taxes, as well as your ability to maintain control of financial affairs once you have passed on. But it also involves the memories that you will leave behind. What was your purpose on Earth? What did you feel most strongly about?
Financial planning often involves other family members. For whatever reason, parents may want to keep some of their financial matters private from grown children. However, communicating specifically on legacy issues is simply the sign of a healthy and functional family. For example, it is the loving husband that encourages his wife to participate in the planning process even if she is not inclined to do so. By participating, she not only brings her own valuable perspective regarding various family matters to the table, but she now has an idea of the planning details if her spouse dies first. (Life expectancy statistics indicate that this is the more likely scenario.) The husband wants his spouse to know and trust the advisor that will help her carry on her financial affairs as a widow.
Estate planning is primarily about money, but it is also about values, ethics, and the story of who you were and what you believed. When you instill family pride and good stewardship in the next generation, your life’s work is far more likely to be preserved and nurtured. In the end, that is how you pass on a true legacy.
*Excerpt From “Financial Stability for Life”, by Daniel E. Butler, CFP®
**Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.
Any opinions are those of Butler Financial, LTD. and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. The
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