A legacy is more than just the passing on of assets–it’s the passing on of goals, thoughts, and hopes for those assets. This three-step process can help advisors work with their clients to create a more thorough estate plan that incorporates what they hope to impress upon the generations to come.
First and foremost, it’s important to ensure your clients are starting this process with a solid foundation. Begin by compiling a list of their assets, whether that’s their retirement savings, life insurance, real estate or other investments, and the value of each of those assets. Once you have these details mapped out with your client, they should decide who they want to inherit that wealth. This doesn’t replace the detailed beneficiary and will planning, but should coincide with it so you and your client have a groundwork to build from in step two.
Now that you have these details organized, ask your clients what is important to them or whether they have particular goals they hope their wealth can accomplish after they pass. These goals could be education, philanthropy, athletics, or something else entirely.
Once your client knows how they hope their assets will be used, find out how important it is for those hopes to become a reality. They can either simply make suggestions to their beneficiaries for how to spend their inheritance, or they can create a trust that guarantees their wealth will be spent in ways that align with their wishes. This part of the process will probably take the most time, requiring deep thought and spanning several discussions.
An idea I hear often to let the family know of what was decided in steps one and two is writing a family love letter. This is a personal note, more emotion-based than a will, explaining to loved ones what impact they hope their wealth will continue to have after they pass. It gives your client a way to solidify their hopes and legacy in writing as well as allows them to guide their beneficiaries on how to best utilize their inheritance to honor your client’s legacy.
Your clients spent most of their lives saving, and to be able to pass on some of their wealth to their loved ones is no easy feat. But there is so much more to estate planning than just choosing a beneficiary and hoping for the best. Completing this process can provide a feeling of peace to know that after their passing, they’ve allowed for their children, grand- and great-grandchildren to continue to honor their family history and legacy.
Hartford Funds does not provide legal or tax advice. Shareholders should consult a legal or tax advisor for additional information. This information is provided for information purposes only.
Michael Lynch is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC.
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