BRIAN EVANS, Special to The Standard
If there ever was a topic that most want to avoid, it is the planning process for the settlement of your estate. The reason for the neglect could be because of the following realities:”I will die!”, “I will take nothing with me!”, “I will probably die at a time I did not anticipate!”, “Someone else will get my ‘stuff’!” Since the beginning of time, it has always been the same. How could it be different now? Yet, the way we deal with these realities can be one final act of stewardship and expression of love to those we care about. A person can only decide before they die who gets their ‘stuff’ after death. The end of life is appointed and is similar to an exam. If you study now and prepare, it always helps you finish well.
That is actually the first important point. It needs to be understood wealth transfer is not an event; it is a process. The estate planning process should start now. Completing the process will bring a heightened sense of peace and confidence in knowing your family will be looked after while at the same time ensuring your final wishes will be provided for. Just ask those who have already prepared.
The estate process is not only the transfer of your assets and belongings. A well-planned estate will take into consideration the impact it will have on beneficiaries. Beneficiaries should never be surprised by the decisions of a benefactor. These decisions will be consistent with how they lived their lives and the priorities which guided their financial decisions.
Take some time to consider these questions. Are the next stewards prepared to manage what is left to them responsibly? Are your heirs (Spouse, Children or Grandchildren) in a position to understand what would be an effective use of an inheritance which could continue the heritage you have left? Are they trained in the values and priorities that have guided you and could continue a positive impact on the world they remain in? Do they have an understanding of or know where to get good counsel on tax & estate laws and investment principles and strategies?
An estate process should not attempt to manipulate behaviour or change lifestyle. Neither should it be controlled by the demands or expectations of beneficiaries. It should help heirs rather than harm them financially. Even though some beneficiaries may need some guidance and protection, trying to establish control ‘from the grave’ may not be advantageous in all relationships.
R.G. LeTourneau once stated, “rather than leave our wealth to our children, we’d rather leave our children to the world.”
One day, all will leave ‘stuff’ to someone else. Doesn’t it make sense to be the one to choose who those “someones” are and be a part of helping them be ready to receive it? A well-prepared plan will relieve stress and give you comfort.
This five-part series will provide perspectives to strongly encourage you to prioritize an essential process of effective wealth transfer, which will bring you peace of mind when completed! After that, live!