It’s common for people to want to leave money behind for their children and family members after death. After spending years working to earn a living, people are proud to leave behind a legacy and help their future generations to be better off.
But there's a common saying regarding generational wealth: "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations." The idea is, by the third generation of wealth being passed down, it's primarily gone.
With that being said, there are things you can do now to proactively protect your wealth and your heirs. Developing a generational wealth plan, communicating with your loved ones, and working with a team of professionals can give your wealth a better chance at lasting for generations to come.
Here’s how you can approach estate planning in a way that will last for generations, otherwise known as generational wealth planning.
Creating a Generational Plan
The making of a generational plan consists of two parts. First, the legal documents. Second, you will need a detailed, written generational plan outlined in a way that clearly states how your beneficiaries (and future generations of beneficiaries) should address your wealth after your passing. There are several steps you can take now to begin the planning process.
Think Ahead, Far Ahead
It’s important to remember that generational wealth planning is a bit different from designating gifts for your kids and grandkids through estate planning. When you start making a generational plan, you need to be considerate of future generations - even the ones you’ll never meet.
It may be hard, but try to think of your family as people you haven't even met. The point of generational wealth planning is to pass your assets down to those who haven't been born yet, but it can be hard to try to consider their needs alongside the family members you already know and love.
For example, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want my legacy to look like generations into the future, beyond my children and grandchildren?
- What expectations do I want to set for future beneficiaries? What wisdom and values do I want to share with them? How can these be memorialized in order to be shared with future generations?
- Will charitable giving be prioritized, perhaps through the creation of a foundation? What types of organizations should receive gifts?
A trusted advisor who knows your story and situation can be a helpful guide as you consider your vision for generational wealth.
Have Conversations With Your Family
If you want your wealth to last for generations, it’s crucial that you communicate your desires with your family. Everyone must be on the same page when it comes to leaving a legacy for future generations.
You are your family’s best resource for wisdom and guidance when it comes to this, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that your money and values need to be kept secret. Take the time to educate your children and grandchildren, sharing your vision with them so that they aren’t left feeling confused and frustrated.
Sharing your wealth with future generations without sharing your vision for that wealth could lead to that wealth being used in ways that don’t align with your vision. Plus, having these conversations could become the inspiration for a more clearly defined vision as discussions with family unfold.This is an ideal opportunity to involve your financial advisor, as they can help you communicate your vision and answer any of the more technical questions your family may have.
Put It in Writing
Putting your plans in writing can rid future generations of potential doubt or confusion regarding your wishes. Your heirs are the ones who will truly be carrying out your generational wealth plan after you are gone.Make sure you specifically identify how the money should be used, how it is accessed, and how it is replenished. With proper planning, your money could be used to invest in higher education, starting a business, or other things that will help your family grow their wealth for decades to come.
Create a Support System
Do you know what a sustainable withdrawal rate is for your assets? It's possible you may not. And if you don't know, it's highly unlikely your heirs will know either. Understanding this, along with several other technical details, is an important part of maintaining wealth for decades to come. This is why working with the right system of financial professionals could be your greatest chance at successful generational wealth transfer. They will have the advantage of working one-on-one with you to determine your goals, develop a plan, educate your heirs, and help them stay on track.
If you think you’re ready to start creating a generational wealth plan, remember to have a clear vision and share that vision with your family members. Put these wishes into legal documents, as well. Your trusted financial professional can help you begin the planning process, coach you through conversations with your family members, and answer any questions you may have.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and is provided by Strategic Financial Planning, Inc. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information only. Please consult professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.