Generational Wealth

Myth: I do not need an estate plan until I have millions of dollars...

Fact: Generational wealth transfer is much more than a complex series of trust accounts and you are likely already doing it. Just ask yourself:

  • Did you or are you planning to help pay for college? 
  • Are you paying for your adult children to vacation with you? 
  • Have you given your adult children personal loans (perhaps for a car)? 
  • Are you paying for your adult child’s cell phone, Spotify or Nextflix? 

The reality is that whether you plan for it or not, you are likely already sharing your family wealth.  

If you are already transferring your wealth, in large amounts or small, or still discussing how and when to do it, you need to have an open and honest conversation about your goals and establish the best way to achieve them. Your goals might be education, travel, charitable giving, something else or all the above. 

What is Family Wealth?

What is Family Wealth?

Family wealth includes more than money. It also includes your family story and values. It will be difficult for children to appreciate, preserve, and add to the family wealth if they do not feel a connection to it. The first step is for you, yourself, to wrap your arms around the importance of what you want to pass to your heirs and to define the role money plays in your lifeFor most of us, money is not the goalRather, security, quality time spent with family and friends, and/or helping others may be the end goal and money is a tool to help us achieve these things. Family members being able to share their lives in a positive way among many generations is what family wealth is all about. 

You Must Prepare for the Transfer of Wealth

Working hard, building up a nest egg to pass along to your children and grandchildren is a wonderful accomplishment. But, just as you prepared to go to work every day to build this nest egg you must prepare yourself and your family to preserve and grow it.   

  1. The first step is to tell your family story. Kids are never too young to hear how Grandpa and Grandma immigrated to the US and then worked every day to get ahead or how a relative used the GI bill to become the first in the family to go to college.  Tell your children the family story and make them feel like they are part of it.  Explain to them that the story is not over, their chapter is yet to be written. 
  2. As your children grow up, determine what events or activities are important to you for everyone to participate in and then make this happen.  It can be as simple as a monthly dinner or as complicated as getting everyone together for a family vacation. If you create the tradition when they are young it has a better chance of carrying forward to their children. 
    • Pay for this out of the family wealth. This is generational wealth transfer! If you never take your children and their children together on a vacation, it is unlikely they will do this on a regular basis if you leave them money in your will. Some people go so far as to establish legacy travel funds to ensure the tradition continues. 
  3. Prepare your adult children for their beneficiary roles. If you have several children and plan to divvy up responsibilities such as financial power of attorney and health care proxy, talk to them about it! Explain what the responsibilities entail and make sure they are comfortable with them. They will feel more empowered to fulfill their responsibilities if they know the choice was thoughtful and intentionally made. And, if they do not think that the role suits them, they can explain and you can reconsider.  
  4. Read this great booklet to learn more about 10 Conversations All Families Can Have
Put It In Writing

Put It In Writing

Work with an attorney to create an estate structure that meets your needs and works for the next generation. You know your beneficiaries best. Identify their strengths and align those strengths with your long-term family goals. Next, tell a trusted person where the estate documents are and who has access to them.  

Plan for the Unexpected

Plan for the Unexpected

In addition to having a written estate plan, you should also have a written plan to deal with health emergencies – emotionally, physically and financially. Understand how health care can impact your family financial wealth.

Keep your Adult Children Actively Involved

Develop your plan and talk to your adult children. Host family meetings and share the family history. Discuss what is important to you and how your kids can actively be a part of growing your family wealth!