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December 2nd, 2011

What is the Most Under-Utilized Strategy in Estate Planning?

By Dave

By Lee Brower and Ron Nakamoto

Before we answer this question, let us ask a few others: “Why are you doing this planning? Why does estate planning matter?”

Most people want to minimize taxes. They think of their families, of their children and grandchildren, and perhaps causes they’re passionate about. Perhaps they want to give back and feel that they’ve made a contribution; perhaps they want to help others.

So what’s the strategy that most people over-look? It has something to do with what our clients tell us are their top three concerns:

1. They’re concerned about loss of choice and control. Most people don’t want to lose control of assets that they’ve worked hard to acquire. They like options; they don’t like to do things that can’t be reversed or changed. Yet, most estate planning techniques involve irrevocable decisions that limit future flexibility.

2. They worry that money will ruin their children and grandchildren. Traditional estate planning techniques driven by tax minimization will typically place assets in the hands of heirs who may not have the maturity or wisdom to deal with the challenges and issues surrounding money and wealth. There are numerous high-profile examples of people who inherited wealth that they squandered or misused in very public ways.

3. They wonder if they’ll be forgotten; that no real legacy will survive them once they’ve passed away.

So, in light of these observations, what’s the most under-utilized strategy in estate planning? Just plain old fashion thinking! Take the time to engage in a well-thought-out process to clarify deeply held values and beliefs and establish an in-depth multi-generational vision prior to engaging in legal and tax strategies that comprise your deep down wishes for how you want your wealth transferred. You wouldn’t build a new house without first putting a lot of thought and reflection into the planning process, would you? Estate planning should be about learning how to think and then thinking deeply before delving into the tools and techniques of estate planning. It’s planning with the three major concerns listed above in mind.

We’ve discovered that it’s thinking about and focusing on Sustainable Prosperity.

 

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