Estate Planning: Beyond Taxes
When many people think of estate planning, they think of estate taxes. Perhaps this is with good reason, as estate taxes have the potential to eat away at a significant portion of an estate.
However, the biggest issue to consider when planning for your legacy isn’t your taxes, but your values. What values do you have when it comes to money? What is important for you to pass down to the next generation? How do you plan today to ensure your future legacy is fulfilled?
There are several things you may wish to consider today to help ensure your legacy is available for future generations. Before we address those considerations, it may help to outline the four places where your assets may end up:
- You can spend your money during your lifetime. It’s important to enjoy the lifestyle your assets afford you while you can. Don’t plan to pass all your money to the next generation – enjoy it during your lifetime as well.
- It can go to your kids. In the wise words of Warren Buffett, “I want to give my kids enough so that they could feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.” When leaving a legacy to the next generation, you should consider passing along not only your assets, but your values as well.
- It can go to Uncle Sam. Most people believe they have paid enough in taxes over their lifetimes. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the tax burdens on an estate.
- It can go to charity. Donating to charity can enable you to leave a lasting legacy for others. Remember, estate taxes are completely voluntary. You don’t need to pay a dime in taxes if you leave your entire estate to charity.
Estate Planning Considerations
You’ve worked hard during your lifetime. You’ve learned a few things along the way and would like to pass your wisdom and values to your children and grandchildren. You want to make sure your children lead productive lives independent of your wealth, yet you would like to help them along the way. You hope that all of your children and grandchildren are responsible with money. How can you possibly plan for all of this occurring after your death? There are several considerations to take into account today that may help ensure your values are passed down to future generations
Consider giving your children a one-time or annual gift and see what they do with it. Are their financial decisions in line with the values you have tried to pass along? Do they pay down debt and invest for the future, or do they spend the money on indulgences? How they handle the money today may be an indicator of how they will view any inheritance they receive in the future, and it may provide you with insight as you plan.
People often have different ideas about their children’s spouses and how involved they should be in the larger family’s financial decisions. Do you feel comfortable including spouses in your family’s financial discussions? Is it important to establish trusts to keep your assets within the bloodline? If you have strong opinions regarding how your assets are passed down, it’s important to incorporate those values into your estate plan, as well.
If contributing to charity is an important value, you may consider establishing a donor-advised fund. One approach with this type of fund is to allow each of your children to allocate a portion of the fund to a charity that matters to them. This can be started with young children to help them understand the importance of giving.
At Mariner Wealth Advisors, we work with clients every day as they plan for not only their financial future, but also the financial future of their next generations. We have experience in estate planning techniques beyond taxes, and we would be glad to help you navigate these issues. For additional information about how we can help you plan for the next generation, please contact us.
The information contained herein is not intended to be personal legal, investment or tax advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any security or engage in a particular investment strategy. Nothing herein should be relied upon as such. The views expressed are for commentary purposes only and do not take into account any individual personal, financial, or tax considerations.
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