Not only do you need to prepare your assets for transition to your heirs but you also need to prepare your heirs to receive your assets. Larry Swedroe, director of research for the BAM ALLIANCE, says the success of an estate plan may depend on preparing your family for the transfer of values as well as wealth.

In an article for Advisor Perspectives, he poses five questions that should be asked to determine if heirs are prepared to receive your assets:
  1. Do your children know your estate plan?
  2. Have your heirs read your will or other estate planning documents?
  3. Do they know the family's net worth, both yours and their own?
  4. Are your heirs in communication with your team of advisors?
  5. Have they been involved in the formation of the Investment Policy Statement, and are they familiar with the investment strategy, the goals and how to manage the assets?
Swedroe writes, "Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, families treat money and the issues surrounding wealth as taboo subjects. And the 'lessons' of non-involvement get passed on from one generation to the next. Thus, in most cases the answers to the above questions are 'no' -- and that explains why the failure rate is so high."


Percentage of people who say that making sure their family isn't burdened by tough end-of-life wishes is "extremely important."
Percentage of people who haven't communicated such wishes to their family.
Source: Centers for Disease Control

Percentage of people who say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important.
Percentage of people who have actually done so.
Source: The Conversation Project National Survey 

The most obvious way to leave a legacy is by providing for your heirs through an inheritance. But as  this article from Forbes notes, a legacy is about much more than material things. The article states: "Your legacy is putting your stamp on the future.  It's a way to make some meaning of your existence: 'Yes ... I was here. Here's my contribution, here's why I hope my life mattered.'"  Forbes offers four smart ways to leave a legacy, from providing a family history to writing a legacy letter.

There are many questions that should be asked when it comes to planning and protecting your legacy. The following are some that we can help you answer as you evaluate your plan:
  • Will my family's wealth be safeguarded for generations to come?
  • How can I ensure that the legacy I leave is significant and lasting?
  • Have all my essential documents been created or recently reviewed/updated?
  • How can I help my family and charitable causes now and in the future?
  • Who will be responsible for carrying out my wishes -- and would it be more beneficial to name a corporate trustee instead of an individual?
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