By Steven M. Rogé, MBA, CFP®, AIF®
Leaving a legacy means different things to different people. But to leave a legacy one must have something to give. After almost two decades of rising asset prices (stocks and housing among other assets) an increasing number of individuals and families are in the unique position to not only retire comfortably, but also have a sizable nest egg leftover to bequeath to the next generation. According to a Credit-Suisse report the number of millionaires in the United States increased by over two million families in 2020 alone.1 While having a million dollars is not what it used to be, with a little planning, continual saving, and time, it could grow into a small fortune.
Our team has noticed an increase in clients who will not only have fully funded the goals established in their financial plan, but will have excess capital which will allow them to create a legacy. Although we are not talking about massive estates like that of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, many clients have accumulated a large enough nest egg to warrant a new discussion – shifting the emphasis from their own wealth planning and focusing on legacy planning for the next, or even multiple future generations.
When the anxiety of knowing whether you can retire comfortably has been alleviated, a sense of being a family patriarch and steward of capital for the benefit of future successors tends to become realistic. In our experience, not planning is a wasted opportunity. Small steps can be taken now to help optimize your wealth and make a meaningful difference to your legacy.
Once the focus is shifted from the individual to the future, a couple of things must change:
- First and most importantly is the beneficiary of assets. This means working with an estate planner to think about creating a trust of protection, control, and privacy. The proper transfer of assets, especially to multiple generations deserves professional guidance. Without proper planning, even a sizable amount of assets is unlikely to last more than the next generation. In fact, 70% of wealthy families lose their wealth by the second generation, and 90% lose it by the third.2
- Tax planning becomes more nuanced when considering heirs as well. Aggressive ROTH conversions can mean years of tax-free growth and distributions beyond a single or joint life. Discretionary Trusts may be established and can become beneficiaries of these accounts to further control and protect assets.
- The target investment asset allocation must also change to get the most out of current investment assets. We can model different scenarios and modify the target portfolio to see how these scenarios work with regards to specific goals and objectives, while still considering personal future liabilities. Once it is determined that a comfortable retirement can be achieved through multiple stressed-tested, projected scenarios, we can begin the process of optimizing the portfolio so that it continues to grow for future generations. We like to pair future liabilities with the proper selection of investments. This means that longer-term future liabilities can be matched up with equity investments. In essence we build a more aggressive portfolio that can continue an upward trajectory to grow for your legacy’s goals.
- Time is also of the essence when recognizing that you are willing and able to start investing in the future. The sooner this can be determined the quicker we can incorporate the new investments, estate planning, and tax planning toward your heirs.
Our team of knowledgeable CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ (CFP®) can help determine if legacy planning is right for you. If you are interested in learning more about planning for future generations, please reach out to us at 631.218.0077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be happy to go into further detail and answer any questions you may have regarding this strategy.