Everyone comes into the world a blank slate. Through the years, you accumulate tangible things (also know as “belongings”, “assets”, “personal property”, “your stuff”, etc.) and you accumulate intangible knowledge or wisdom through your life experiences. Your estate plan leaves your physical assets to your beneficiaries, and you can also use your estate plan to leave them some of the hard-won wisdom you’ve accumulated over your life. You can let your family and friends learn from your mistakes, and profit from your successes. Below are a few of the ways you can leave words of wisdom to the next generation.
Including Your Wisdom in a Trust
You know that a fully-funded living trust avoids probate. If you have concerns about some of your beneficiaries’ ability to handle a windfall, there are options you can include in your trust to handle your concerns. For example, an incentive trust pays out money when the beneficiary meets certain requirements, such as finishing college or staying clean and sober. When combining an incentive trust with a personal letter or video, you can let the beneficiary know that you love and care about them and explain why you’ve put conditions on the inheritance. The beneficiary has the opportunity in the future to look back and realize the wisdom of your actions.
Recording Your Wisdom in a Video Adjunct to a Written Will or Trust
Wills and trusts must be written documents so a video without a written will or trust is not legally binding. However, you can make a video in addition to a written will or trust that will explain your desires and thought processes with respect to your bequests. For example, suppose you left jewelry, artwork, or other valuables to friends or various family members. In a video, you could explain why you chose to leave a specific item to the stated beneficiary and if the article had a special meaning to you, you may want to share that on the video. Furthermore, a video can be a good way to explain your intentions if you have multiple children and think one child might resent the the giving of certain items to another child.
Transferring Wisdom in a Business Succession Plan
If you own a business, succession planning may be crucial to ensure the business can continue to operate and provide for your family without you at the helm. It can make the difference in whether the company succeeds or fails in the months following your departure. Along with proper succession planning, a written statement or video to your board or employees helps convey your thoughts and intentions with respect to the future of the business.
Conveying Wisdom through Charitable Planning
Many of us have causes and preferred charities that we support during our lifetimes. There are numerous opportunities through estate planning to continue to support charitable organizations during your lifetime and following your death. Examples include establishing a Charitable Lead Trust which can provide an immediate charitable gift or creating a Charitable Remainder Trust which can support a loved one (or you) for a period of time with money eventually going to your chosen charity. Leaving a portion of your estate to charity shows what mattered to you, and encourages the net generation to follow in your footsteps. Although your heirs may choose to support other causes or organizations, your charitable giving plan conveys the importance that you place on financially supporting charities close to your heart.
Share the History of Items Significant to You
When you are bequeathing items that have special significance to you, leave the beneficiary a history of the item and why it was important to you. If it is a family heirloom and you know its history, record whom it was passed to, from generation to generation. Often times the value of a cherished item is derived more from family ties than the value of the item itself. Sharing these stories will make a family heirloom cherished all the more.
There are many tools and options available to you to convey your property and words of wisdom to your heirs during your lifetime and after death. Contact us today to discuss how we can devise an estate plan specific to your desires so that you can leave the wisdom and wealth you have accumulated to your loved ones while making sure that your family can avoid unnecessary hassles and expenses.
The information above is general in nature and is not legal advice specific to your situation. If you have questions about your business, estate plan, or protecting your business or personal assets, you should speak with an attorney in your area for legal advice. If you live or do business in California and would like to speak with The Law Office of Tawnya Gilreath regarding your situation, please schedule an appointment.