The Role of Legacy Planning
Compliments of Our Law Firm,
Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys
You may have many fond childhood memories of lively family gatherings. And it was probably not unusual to hear older family members remark how happy they were when everyone gathered for those special meals and how proud they were to see their legacy living on in their loved ones. Think of legacy planning as an extension of that sentiment.
Different from estate planning, legacy planning takes into consideration who we are and what we will leave behind besides the material wealth. Legacy planning is versatile. Many clients incorporate legacy planning as a way of passing down important family heirlooms: a great grandmother’s cake recipes, cherished and protected in her original handwriting or perhaps it’s a stunning cameo that every bride in your family has worn on her wedding day. Clearly, the sentimental value is far more important than its financial value. Your family is unique; therefore, your legacy planning should highlight those beautiful differences.
It makes sense that most legacy planning focuses on the immediate family. While you may adore your granddaughter’s fiancé today, no one really knows what circumstances could play out in the future that might change your opinion of him completely.
Not only that, but a spouse could remarry and because of the legalities, it very well could mean a stepfamily benefits tremendously while your own children are left wondering what happened. A Family Wealth Trust would allow you to pass on your legacy, in any way you define, to specific people; most likely the same ones who are around that dinner table during the holidays. For example, if your daughter marries, though it soon becomes clear the groom’s motives are less than noble, the protections you put into place during legacy planning can help ensure an ex-spouse doesn’t walk away with any portion of the inheritance.
We’ve all heard stories of a widow remarrying after the loss of a spouse, only to have her new husband outlive her. If a proper estate plan is not in place, there is a possibility the new husband’s children could receive all of her and her first husband’s estate, leaving her children with nothing. A Family Wealth Trust could avoid this from happening when set up correctly.
Scenarios like the ones outlined above play out every day. Those best prepared for the uncertainties are the ones who are best protected from the repercussions. It is important to meet with a qualified estate planning attorney today to help ensure your estate and your legacy are protected for many more fond memories in the future.