By Peter T. Waldron
Managing Partner of Waldron Partners
"Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox
With the temperature dropping and the season’s celebrations upon us, I can’t think of anything that provides a greater sense of comfort than the sight of my family sitting around a warm fire, enjoying each other’s company, with laughter and love filling the room. Sitting by the fire recently, I scanned each of my children’s faces and I was confounded by the idea that things may not always be this way. Time inevitably passes and each of my children will eventually chart their own courses. And with each path chosen, they will hopefully feel a sense of pride in the decisions they’ve made for themselves and/or their own family. While we would all like to keep our kids close, they may not, in fact, stay close. They might not make the decisions we would make and they might even do things to which we are completely opposed. But they will always be our family.
Whether you are just starting a brood or have already established multiple generations, your family will always be your family. As we build financial wealth, we are confronted with the question: how should I distribute my wealth to my family? There are few things in life that create as much chaos as the merging of family and money. For some, the answer to this question is: why should I care? I’ll be dead! And while this answer is partially valid, planning can transform a chaotic estate outcome into a seamless transfer of hopes, dreams, and wealth.
Achieving a smooth transfer requires forethought and preparation. With many, this starts with a visit to an estate planning attorney to create wills, power of attorney documents for health/financial matters, and a trust. For others, the conversation should start with a financial planner. An estate planning attorney may still prove necessary, but a financial planner can organize your estate into models that will assist in merging the complexities of wealth and family. Proper modeling can help you visualize your estate now and into the future, as well as forecast how your wealth will grow or shrink. This will then allow you to make informed decisions about what will happen when you are gone and align your giving goals while you are still here. Modeling can ensure that you are not misappropriating funds that should be earmarked for your own future enjoyment and also provide the framework for meeting your estate planning objectives.
Once the models have been refined, you will need to convey your vision to your heirs. This idea is a bit avant-garde and must be done with extreme tact. I would insist that this is not an attempt to dwell on whose money it is (or will be), but rather an effort to properly communicate intergenerationally without the veil of a recent death. In some cases, this process can incorporate a therapist to help manage the nuances of the family dynamic, which may have been passively ignored in the past. While setting up this type of meeting can be a daunting task, obtaining a clear picture of your estate will most likely lead to stronger and deeper bonds within your family.
Our ultimate demise and the subsequent transfer of our wealth is never an easy topic to discuss. However, I hope this article has prompted some new and improved perspectives about estate planning. While not every estate plan requires modeling, for some, understanding the financial impact of their estate plan is important to ensure their objectives are met. Once the appropriate models have been built, it is imperative to communicate your wishes to your family. These conversations can be difficult, but having a plan, and communicating that plan, is sensible and imperative. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season from the team at Waldron Partners and from my amazing family: Nichole, Emi, Gia, Gunnar, Rory, and Shea!
“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.” – Leonardo da Vinci
PLEASE CONTACT PETER WALDRON TO SCHEDULE A COMPLIMENTARY REVIEW OF YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION: 925-786-7686 or email@example.com
Peter T. Waldron, California Insurance License #0E47827, is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors, a broker/dealer, member SIPC, and offers investment advisory services through Sagemark Consulting, a division of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a registered investment advisor, Waldron Partners, 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 190 PO Box 528, Alamo, CA 94507. Waldron Partners is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors. Insurance is offered through Lincoln Marketing and Insurance Agency, LLC and Lincoln Associates Insurance Agency, Inc. and other fine companies. This material is for use with the general public and is designed for informational or educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, tax, or direct investment advice. Lincoln Financial Advisors does not offer legal or tax advice. CRN-3933155-112421