Over the years, you and your advisors have methodically crafted and followed a conservative financial plan, you invested your money effectively, you purchased life insurance to provide liquidity and further support of your estate wishes, you have documented your estate in a manner that minimizes taxation and carries out your estate desires.
So you left your heirs with financial resources and a well thought-out and constructed legal framework for the handling of your estate…and what else? Are you done? Have you done enough?
But did you leave questions? Questions that you may not be available to answer?
Was the plan what your heirs expected? Or was it a surprise? Is the estate larger or smaller than expected? Is their share of the inheritance bigger or smaller than expected? Are there restrictions on their inheritance? Have they been treated “equally”? What does “equal” really mean? Have they been treated “fairly”? What does “fair” really mean?
Why have you chosen to give so much money to charity? Why these charities? These organizations may matter to you, but are they important to me? What if I don’t support their objectives? What if I care about other causes?
Who has extra responsibilities as a part of the plan – power of attorney, medical power of attorney, trustee, etc.? Why were they selected? Is being selected a privilege? Or a burden?
Who are these people? Our CPA? Our estate attorney? Our financial advisor? Our trustee? What is their role? What will they do for me or to me? Why have I never met them before? Why don’t I know them? Why don’t they know me?
Do you care about me? My thoughts? And my preferences and desires? My fears?
Did you do anything to prepare me for this?
Unfortunately these questions are all too common.
Communication, or more appropriately lack of communication, is a leading cause of estate related difficulties, personal distress, family tension and discord, disputes and potential legal action.
An effective estate plan is not completed until communicated, explained, understood and supported.
While death and its related issues are not easy topics to bring up and discuss, the communication and conversations do not get easier after death. They simply turn into unanswered and unanswerable questions.
Punting, on communication of these important estate topics, is not an effective strategy to facilitate transfer of wealth, maintain a cohesive family unit and support each heir in living the fulfilled life consistent with their desires and dreams.
It is very important to develop and implement a communication strategy and personal development plan for your heirs to support their future roles and responsibilities.
- Family Values – communication of what are important values to you, why they are important and how the plan supports the ongoing relevance of these values to your heirs.
- Advisors - This includes knowledge and relationship with advisors that will be available to assist them – including CPAs, general practice attorneys, estate planning attorneys, life insurance consultant, financial advisors, trustees, etc.
- The Estate and The Plan – provide a basic understanding of the components of the estate (marketable investments, non-marketable investments, business interests, real estate, collectibles, life insurance, etc.), the estate plan and the reasons behind it.
- Philanthropy – providing heirs with a knowledge of the process of philanthropy and how you selected your chosen charities.
- Cost of Living – where appropriate providing heirs with education regarding the basic costs of living – housing, food, transportation, insurance, taxes, leisure, etc.
- Budgeting – where appropriate providing heirs education regarding establishing and living within an effective financial budget.
- Investments - providing heirs with a level of knowledge of investments, in general, and your investments, in specific, to assist them in providing appropriate direction and oversight to your financial advisors.
- Supplemental resources – where appropriate providing supplemental resources to assist heirs in managing their financial world – bill paying, account reconciliation, financing recordkeeping, budgeting, etc.
At Telemus, the foundation of our organization is based on a holistic approach to financial life management. We have the experience and resources to assist you in developing and implementing an appropriate communication and development plan for you and your heirs.
Let us help. Let’s start the discussion.