By Ed Morrow
When you consider the legacy you hope to leave behind, you want the best possible outcome for the things you care about: your family, your loved ones, and your philanthropic causes. Without a well-designed formal wealth transfer plan, your best hopes may not come to pass.
As Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (supreme commander of Allied forces for D-Day landings at Normandy) said, “The plan is nothing. Planning is everything.”
The process of thinking through your estate plan and considering potential roadblocks, disputes and expenses before they happen enable you to better control your outcomes. But don’t leave “the plan” on the shelf, revisit it periodically with your advisors and potentially even your family.
Consider the following questions and contact your Huntington Private Bank® advisor to begin the wealth transfer strategies conversation.
- Do I really need a formal wealth transfer plan?
- Does my transfer of wealth mean I will no longer control my assets?
- For tax purposes, should I gift assets now or put it all in the estate?
- Do I need to put my assets in trusts?
- Do I need a professional trustee?
- When should I begin planning?
The truth is, everyone has a default estate plan if they have no will or trust. The state you reside in has this codified in law (referred to as “intestacy”). If you want your specific wishes to be carried out, even after you’re gone, you will need your own transfer of wealth plan and appropriate documents. Your plan should cover all of your goals, from philanthropic objectives to protecting assets from creditors and other priorities.
Control doesn’t require ownership. Transferring ownership of family assets to certain types of trusts, family members, or other entities could help protect that property from creditors and other outside influences. Different plans have different levels of retained control.
Gifting now or later isn’t an either/or question, whether it’s to your heirs or a cherished charity. As laws and regulations have changed recently, a combination of current and future gifts may be most efficient and effective. Careful transfer of wealth planning can help minimize taxes for you and your heirs. This includes paying careful attention to income taxation and tax basis as well as state and federal estate taxes.
No, but there are substantial advantages to doing so that only increase with the level of wealth involved. The exact vehicles for your estate will depend on your goals. Trusts are a workhorse of legacy planning, helping with tax efficiency, asset protection, support and oversight of heirs, and many other priorities. One of the benefits of using trusts is that they can offer professional management of your wealth transfer.
No, but a professional trustee can ease the burden on your loved ones after you’re gone and can help minimize family disputes and litigation. Having professional trustee oversight of a trust, either in conjunction with a family member or on its own, can help ensure that your wealth transfer plans are followed as you wished.
It is never too late, or too soon, to begin planning how to manage your affairs in the event of incapacity and transfer wealth to the next generation. And there’s good reason to seek professional guidance as you identify goals, build an effective plan, and establish trusts and other plan structures. Good planning can be invaluable at any stage, and you’ll need to revisit and update your plan periodically.
Transferring your wealth can be a complex process, so it’s important to begin planning as soon as possible and with the help of a qualified team. To learn more, please contact your Huntington Private Bank team to see how we can help or find a Huntington Private Bank Office near you.