Wealth Transfer Planning

Be sure your financial assets, values, stories and more transfer to the people and causes you care about. Minimize taxes and other costs.

“I want them to write their own stories, and I want my money to help. I also do not want their future inheritance to ruin them.”

Benefits of Planning

For wealth transfer

Our wealth transfer processes help you make a lasting, positive impact on the folks you love, including:

  • Teaching younger generations financial stewardship
  • Transferring values and stories
  • Reducing taxes and encouraging healthy relationships
  • Specific wealth transfer services

The Stats about Inheritance

Many of us struggle with wealth transfer.

Generations before inheritance is spent
Americans who will inherit something
Avg. net worth is an inheritance

Source: BLS Working Paper verified February, 2024.

Common Questions to Help You Plan the Transfer of Your Wealth

Here are some key questions to ask as you consider how to transfer your wealth.

How can I talk to my inheritors without spoiling them?

Many people struggle with the desire to keep their wealth private and also prepare their children and grandchildren to receive the money. On this website, you will find many common questions to start a conversation. We offer experienced guides to help you prepare something unique and meaningful for your family. Scroll down to learn more or contact us for a free discovery conversation.

How do I teach younger generations financial stewardship?

You may have conflicting desires. You want to keep the money in the family but you also want your children to work for it. You may want them to struggle so that they appreciate the money. But you may also want them never to feel desperate, or to struggle too much.

Or, you might want to make a meaningful gift. That gift may be completely different for one child who could “really use the money” or a grandchild in college than it is for another relative who is already financially successful.

You may want to set up a family business, or a family charity, and help the younger generations invest, spend and give away their money in responsible ways. We can help facilitate these conversations, share with you best practices and experiences we have had helping other families in similar situations.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin teaching younger generations financial stewardship:

What is your first memory of money?
What was money like when you grew up? Abundant? Scarce?
What feelings, thoughts and concerns do you have as you think about money?
How have these experiences helped shape your relationship with money?
What has been healthy? Helpful?
Conversely, what has been hurtful? Limiting?
What does a healthy relationship with money look like for you?

As you begin this self-reflection, consider what experiences you would like your beneficiaries to have on their own. Consider how your money could motivate the behaviors that you want to see them create. And, consider how you could help them create a healthy relationship with money.

How do I transfer my values and stories?

In our experience working with the transfer of wealth across generations, we have found that many families appreciate the story of the money as much as they appreciate the money itself. We will help you shape your money story. Your values and experiences may help younger generations achieve a healthy relationship with money. Then they may be able to pass this knowledge on to their children.

For example, a common story we hear from our inheritor-clients is the one about “dad’s company.” Dad owned this stock and he believed in it. He would never want me to sell it. Well, that might be true. However, we have found that it is usually not the case. The real story underneath that stock could be something completely different. Here are some examples:

Dad never sold it because of a huge tax liability
Dad worked for the company and felt an emotional attachment to it. However, dad also was aware that all the people he worked with had long ago left and he didn’t know a soul who was still there.
Dad’s attachment was emotional, not financial.
Dad inherited the stock himself and was afraid to sell it because of “his dad’s story.”
The story dad wanted to say was different than the one you heard. He hoped you would learn to ride out the market’s ups and downs, or to buy a good company at a good price and hold it, or some other bit of wisdom that never quite got communicated.

Often, the story about “dad’s stock” was never actually told, let alone written down. And succeeding generations hold onto the stock almost like a tombstone—as a way to remember the deceased. It’s a shame, in countless ways, that the story is lost and the stock is held instead.

By telling your story, and hopefully writing it down or recording it, you give your beneficiaries the best chance of emulating the financial values and behaviors that you most want to see in them. You increase the odds that your wealth won’t go from “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”

How do I ensure a financial legacy?

We recommend a conversation with the children and grandchildren about the meaning of the money. You may or may not disclose the entirety of the size of their future inheritance. Some patriarchs and matriarchs feel this may ruin their kids and grandkids. The important discussion to have is what money means to you, and what you hope that it means for them.

To ensure a financial legacy, you want to prepare your inheritors for the windfall. Some people do this through legal structures, including trusts and family partnerships. These methods can be legally strong and may even provide tax advantages.

Still, they will not prevent fighting between the kids and grandkids. They certainly do not assure that the financial legacy translates into a healthy relationship with money. And this, of course, is much more powerful than any legal structure could be.

If you could only have one result or the other, which of these two would you prefer?

A legal structure that protected your financial assets from spendthrift inheritors, their potential spouses, thorny law suits, and also minimized taxes? Or….
Inheritors with healthy money relationships who were able to leverage the financial assets and build professional achievements and personal relationships in alignment with their values and their goals?

For many of us, we’d rather teach a person how to fish than to just give them a fish. For many of us, the soft-side of ensuring a financial legacy is more important, and also more elusive, than the legal structuring side.

See further: Windfall or Inheritance Planning

Here are some questions to ask as you work towards ensuring a financial legacy:

Who will inherit?
What do you love about them?
What do you want them to cultivate?
What do you want them to remember about you and your money story?
What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?
What are some of your best financial decisions?
Now that you have wisdom, if you could do anything with this amount of inheritance, when you were their age, what would you do?
How do you want to be remembered?

Client Stories

Client stories included on this website reflect hypothetical client situations that represent
those commonly encountered by AIWM representatives, they do not reflect actual client relationships.
Grandma’s College Fund
Surprise from a Family Steward

Wealth transfer planning includes college planning for grandchildrenAs Helen approached her 90s, she knew her money would outlast her life on earth. Her youngest grandchildren were approaching college age. Helen wanted to provide them a college education, and she didn’t mind saving taxes either. But she wanted to do something fair to help all the different generations, and also give a little more to those who needed a little more. We:

Discussed fairness, and what it means to Helen, and helped her feel confident in her decision
Set up education accounts and trusts
Funded them in a manner that helped Helen save on taxes
Kept things simple and elegant
Managed the assets prudently

Helen recently passed away. She is remembered by her family for her elegance, prudence and generosity. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are all a little better off, financially and otherwise, because of her good decisions.

Uncle James passed away a few years after becoming our client. Because James never had children, he left the assets in trust for his three nieces. While the children grew up, we managed the investments and their father kept their inheritance a secret. When they were college-bound, James’ nieces received a pleasant surprise—college was free, thanks to Uncle James! We:

Set up and help James fund the trusts, making it easy for James
Managed the investments prudently with Uncle James’ goals in mind, making it easy for the trustee
Managed and reduced tax costs

The accounts continued to grow, even after paying for college. James’ oldest niece was able to pay for a wedding and make a down payment on her first home. Uncle James’ generosity will be forever remembered by this family.

Wealth Transfer Services We Provide

Here are some of the wealth transfer services we provide:

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