Asset Transfer Planning
You don’t have to be wealthy to need a proper estate plan. Legacy planning is not just about the value of what you own, but the way you value what you have and the manner in which you want to pass it to your spouse, children, and grandchildren. By taking wise steps now, you can pass your assets and values to whom you want, when you want, and in the way you want so your spouse, children, and even your grandchildren receive the greatest benefit. The truth is you should have an effective and well-designed legacy plan regardless of the dollar value of your estate because the lack of proper planning may result in unnecessary expenses, time delays and unneeded stress for your family.
Thinking about death and disability is never easy. Planning can be an exhilarating process because when you are confident your values, dreams, and asset legacy will be carefully and thoughtfully passed to your loved ones, you can continue living the life you are meant to lead with peace of mind.
Transferring Your Values – Not Just Your Valuables
When most people think of “estate planning” they immediately think about to whom they are going to leave their assets. Make no mistake—this is definitely a major piece of the estate planning picture. However, I believe if we only focus on who is going to get what, then we are actually cutting corners and leaving the “picture” unfinished.
I consider the act of estate planning like taking a great photograph. Because each family is unique, no two estate plans will look exactly alike. When good photographers take a picture they incorporate at least two, and sometimes three, important components: the background, the foreground, and sometimes a border. As the client, you are the artist—you are creating a one of a kind masterpiece that will impact your spouse and future generations.
In estate planning, the background consists of the values, foundational beliefs and guidance you want to give your beneficiaries. The foreground is the assets you are leaving, and the border is the instructions or parameters, if any, you want to give your beneficiaries regarding the assets you are leaving to them. Together these components create a masterpiece that is completely unique to you and your family.
Legacy planning is the background. It’s the process of communicating to your beneficiaries the values and foundations you want them to be aware of as they use the inheritance you are leaving them. It’s what gives meaning and definition to the assets (foreground) that you are leaving to your beneficiaries. Without the background, the assets do not mean as much. So, how do you do this? There are actually two ways to accomplish this: one is verbal, and one is written.
Sharing Your Memories and More With Loved Ones
Our first process includes a family care consultation, if you want one. This is the opportunity for you to verbally share with your children the reasons why you created your estate plan as you did and some of the purposes it. They can hear directly from you regarding your goals and values in addition to your desires for them.
A second option for you is to write or video record a family philosophy or a family vision statement. This is a letter that can be included with your estate plan and cherished for generations. In the letter, you share important parts of the story of your life and your family’s legacy and history.
For example, you may wish to include things such as:
- Who were your parents and what were they like?
- What was life like for you as a child, and what did you learn of value from your parents?
- How did you and your spouse meet?
- What were the early years like for you and your spouse?
- What are some of your cherished memories with your family and children?
In this letter, you can provide some words of wisdom, encouragement, and guidance such as:
- What do you want your children to know about marriage and family?
- What are your thoughts about education and work?
- What do you want to share about your faith and church?
The answers to these questions can provide your family with closure and wonderful memories when they read or watch them after you pass.