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How Will The Coming Wealth Transfer Affect Your Family and Business?

Whether it’s called “The Great Wealth Transfer,” “The Silver Tsunami,” or some other catchy-sounding name, it’s a fact that a tremendous amount of wealth will pass from aging Baby Boomers to younger generations in the next few decades. In fact, it’s said to be the largest transfer of intergenerational wealth in history.

Because no one knows exactly how long Boomers will live or how much money they’ll spend before they pass on, it’s impossible to accurately predict just how much wealth will be transferred. But studies suggest it’s somewhere between $30 and $50 trillion. Yes, that’s “trillion” with a “T.”

A blessing or a curse?

While most are talking about the benefits this asset transfer might have for younger generations and the economy, few are talking about its potential negative ramifications. Yet there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that many people, especially younger generations, are woefully unprepared to handle such an inheritance.  

Indeed, an Ohio State University study found that one third of people who received an inheritance had a negative savings within two years of getting the money. Another study by The Williams Group found that intergenerational wealth transfers often become a source of tension and dispute among family members, and 70% of such transfers fail by the time they reach the second generation.

Whether you will be inheriting or passing on this wealth, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to reduce the potentially calamitous effects such transfers can lead to. Without proper estate planning, the money and other assets that get passed on can easily become more of a curse than a blessing.

Risk Management

The key to reducing the coming transfer’s potentially damaging effects to you and your children is to put a solid plan in place to counter its risks. In this case, it involves creating a comprehensive estate plan to ensure the wealth you pass on offers the maximum benefit and the fewest drawbacks for your loved ones. 

Given that your business is likely your most valuable asset, effective estate planning is even more important for business owners like yourself. While all aspects of estate planning are vital, as a business owner, creating a business succession plan is one of your plan’s most critical components. 

Get proactive!

There are several proactive measures you can take to help stave off the risks posed by the big wealth transfer. Beyond having a comprehensive estate plan, openly discussing your values and legacy with your loved ones can be a key way to ensure your planning strategies work exactly as you intended. Here’s what we suggest:

  1. Create a plan

If you haven’t created your estate plan yet—and far too many of you haven’t—it’s essential that you put a plan in place as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how young you are or if you have a family yet, all adults over 18 should have some basic planning vehicles in place. 

Rather than procrastinating, succession planning should be a fundamental part of your business strategy from the start. Indeed, you must treat all aspects of estate planning like any other critical business project and invest the time, money, and energy to get it done right.

From there, be sure to regularly update your plan on an annual basis and immediately after major life events like marriage, births, deaths, inheritances, and divorce. You should maintain a relationship with your attorney long after your initial planning documents are signed to ensure your plan is regularly reviewed and updated throughout your lifetime. 

  1. Discuss Wealth with Your Family Early and Often

Don’t put off talking about wealth with your family until you’re in retirement or nearing death. Clearly communicate with your children and grandchildren what wealth means to you and how you’d like them to use the assets they inherit when you pass away. Make such discussions a regular event, so you can address different aspects of wealth and your family legacy as they grow and mature.

When discussing wealth with your family members, focus on the values you want to instill, rather than what and how much they can expect to inherit. Let them know what values are most important to you, and try to mirror those values in your family life as much as possible. Whether it’s saving money, charitable giving, or community service, having your kids live your values while growing up is often the best way to ensure they carry them on once you’re gone.

  1. Communicate Your Wealth’s Purpose

Outside of clearly communicating your values, you should also discuss the specific purposes you want your wealth to serve in your loved ones’ lives. You worked hard to build your family wealth, so you’ve more than earned the right to stipulate how it gets used and managed when you’re gone. Though you can create specific terms and conditions for your wealth’s future use in planning vehicles like a living trust, don’t make your loved ones wait until you’re dead to learn exactly what you want their inheritance used for. 

If you want your wealth to be used to fund your childrens’ college education, provide the down payment on their first home, or invested for their retirement, tell them so. By discussing such things while you’re still around, you can ensure your loved ones know exactly why you made the planning decisions you did. And doing so can greatly reduce future conflict and confusion about what your true wishes really are. 

You should also openly discuss the vision and goals you have for the future of your business. In doing so, you can better prepare your kids to run your company and perhaps even determine which of them is best suited to take the helm.

Secure Your Wealth, Your Legacy, and Your Family’s Future

Regardless of how much or how little wealth you plan to pass on—or stand to inherit—it’s vital that you take steps to make sure that wealth is protected and put to the best use possible. 

Moreover, you should ensure your plan we create has built-in legacy planning services, which can greatly facilitate your ability to communicate your most treasured values, experiences, and stories with the ones you’re leaving behind.

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The Law Offices of Tyler Q. Dahl

At the Law Offices of Tyler Q. Dahl, we’re not just a law firm. We’re your trusted advisor for your business and family from beginning to end. As your family and business grow, we will be there by your side. Our passion is providing you with peace of mind and protection through personalized estate and business planning. Attorney Tyler Q. Dahl is one of less than 100 attorneys in the nation who is also a Certified Tax Coach.

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