Thinking big picture to keep family wealth pays off


People in California know that making wise financial decisions and planning for the future are two of the cornerstones of continued prosperity, but sometimes actually doing these things can be a challenge people are reluctant to take on. Not everyone is a financial whiz or an attorney well-versed in the law of asset transfers but, for a reasonable fee, the odds are that they can find just such an expert in their neighborhood. The truth is that everyone, not just those with a substantial estate, can benefit greatly from talking about their own unique financial situation with an estate planning attorney.

When it comes to estate planning, the first objective for a person to consider is what they want to accomplish. Do they want to leave their money to the next generation, or endow to their favorite charities? Do they have enough to accomplish both? What about grandchildren and beyond?

People who wish to leave money for future generations should consider their own needs, the needs of their children, but also perhaps the needs of subsequent generations. A will or trust can actually provide for the unborn future offspring of a living person.

Part of estate planning is making sure that the person has enough to support themselves and their chosen lifestyle, even in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe. Nobody can predict exactly what the future holds, but fortunately there are sophisticated legal instruments, such as pour-over trusts, which can transfer the remainder of a person's assets to the beneficiaries or organizations they so choose. Instead of a set dollar amount, people can specify how much of their remaining estate should go to each beneficiary, and in what ratio.

Source: On Wall Street "Intergenerational Planning: Get Clients Talking Now," Andrew Welsch, Feb. 10, 2014

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