The Secret to Multi-Generational Financial Planning
If you’re thinking past your own retirement to your parents, your children, and your grandchildren, you’re probably a little overwhelmed. How can you ensure that everyone’s interests, needs, and better selves are protected for the long run?
The secret: Get advice – as a family.
This might seem like the purview of the ultra-wealthy, but it doesn’t have to be. Planning for multiple generations just means prioritizing and organizing for the whole brood, and the benefits can be enjoyed by families of any size and means.
Here’s how to get started.
First: Get everyone together
Families grow and evolve, but you can still start mapping out your strategy. Who do you need to prioritize? What kinds of opportunities and means do you want to offer different family members and generations?
For example, clients of ours recently welcomed a new grandson who faces a lifelong disability. The news brought a sea change to their financial plan – instead of simply providing an inheritance to their children, our clients wanted to focus their attention on planning for their grandson’s future.
It was a potentially delicate situation, but our team was nearly brought to tears by the way our clients’ entire family rallied around their newest member’s long-term needs.
We worked with the whole family to talk about options for building income streams, investment strategies, and insurance coverage that was prudent and appropriate for their situation – while balancing the grandparents’ ongoing need for retirement income and resources.
Not every family will have this kind of rallying cry, but many of our client families share a few common priorities.
Key concerns might include:
- Retirement income and stability
- The opportunity to access capital, buy a home, or provide for immediate needs
- Savings for educational expenses
- Resources to help mitigate the financial cost of emergencies, healthcare crises, and job loss
We recommend getting together to talk through some of the priorities your family members share as the first step in working towards a multi-generational solution.
Consider your asset base
If you’re looking to set a legacy for the next generations, it’s important to consider the full scope of your assets.
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These might include:
- Your financial resources, including bank and investment accounts
- Insurance policy benefits
- Property, such as your home or investment property
- Jewelry, art, or collectibles
Your assets set the stage for the means to achieve long-term financial goals for your family.
Prepare your strategy
Depending on your specific plans, there are a number of ways to structure your wealth for the benefit of your long-term goals. It’s important to remember that this is a process: while there are “simple” answers out there, they might not be the right answer for you and your family.
After all, as many parents and leaders know, managing complex and sometimes competing priorities involves a degree of compromise. That’s why it’s important to know your own mind, your family’s needs, and the potential costs and benefits of different estate planning strategies.
For example, many families choose to start by establishing a family trust. This can provide clearer instructions and a control mechanism on how funds are utilized and distributed over time.
But basic trusts don’t always meet family needs. We’ve helped families who preferred to use insurance products to provide income for specific beneficiaries without the direction of an executor. Other times, generation-skipping trusts or even retirement account designations are a more prudent option.
Weighing up the options with a qualified advisor could be a useful approach, especially if you’re struggling to decipher your choices and balance your goals. An advisor can help you refine your goals and choose the strategies that are most appropriate for your family.
The rewards of this kind of planning could go far above and beyond those to be had from planning for yourself alone.
As one of our new grandparents told us, “Taking the time to prioritize our grandson ended up being one of the most important things we’ve ever done as a family. I only wish we’d started this approach to family finances years ago – but it was the miracle of his birth that got us started, and it brought us all closer as a result.”
Don’t forget about the other aspects of multi-gen planning
Building a financial legacy is one thing, but we all know that family relations can get much more complicated than that.
Multi-generational financial plans are more likely to stand the test of time if they account for all the “other” stuff involved in family finances. How can you manage a more integrated financial life from an emotional, practical, and educational standpoint?
From the Bucket List to the Bank: How to Manage Your Family’s Wealth for the Long Run is our free guide to multi-gen financial strategy to get actionable advice and tips on this innovative approach to financial planning.
Download it free today!
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