As we guide our clients through the various aspects of estate planning, we are in a position to help people define their legacy and transfer assets to future generations. These are often difficult times of change and transition, and we remind our clients that estate planning is about more than distributing wealth – it is also an opportunity to pass on your wisdom and values.
Each generational transition is as unique as the family involved, but through our work with families we have seen some universal themes surface. One is that we find heirs often wish they knew more ahead of time about the process, or how to handle the range of resulting emotions—guilt, doubt, gratefulness—and to be more prepared to comfortably step into the responsibility of managing new wealth.
Another theme is that receiving an inheritance can be both a blessing and a burden. We find that at some point in the process, heirs struggle with how to best follow their loved ones’ wishes as they begin the stewardship of family wealth. They may search for clues about what their loved one might have wanted them to do with this newfound responsibility, and they can experience difficulty in decision making.
One way we encourage our clients to help alleviate this weight for their heirs is to write a legacy letter to include with estate plans and documents. Legacy letters are informal documents that offer thoughts ranging from reminders of personal or money values, words of encouragement, and transfer knowledge and wisdom. In this way, these letter help leave a family legacy that transcends money or property, and can be just as, or even more valuable.
Although they may lack the legal force of a will or trust document, legacy letters provide an understanding of your hopes and wishes for your heirs as they receive the benefit of your financial legacy. The letter can be as short as a few paragraphs, or any length that is needed to cover important issues. They can be hand-written, or electronic, or even in video. In all cases, legacy letters can be living documents that are amended over time.
Among other things, writing a letter to heirs can help
To many of our clients, the idea of creating a legacy letter is intuitively appealing because it can go further than a legal document in providing clarity and comfort.
In our work to support the financial and legal aspects of estate planning for our clients—including facilitating family meetings and connecting helpful resources—our advisory team can help answer the “who, what, and how.” But in our experience, communicating the “why” behind these decisions is what really provides peace of mind, and that makes it a vital step in caring for your heirs.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss legacy planning or legacy letters, please call your Litman Gregory Wealth Advisor or contact us here.
Managing Risks as Uncertainty Continues
There is wide range of potential outcomes for global economies and markets, but we’ve seen recession risks rise recently. We are making incremental adjustments to our clients’ portfolios, such as adding more to “safe haven” bonds like Treasuries.
Capital One Data Breach and Cybersecurity
While the Capital One data breach is not the first of its kind, it is noteworthy in its scale: nearly 106 million of the bank’s customer and applicant accounts were affected. These occurrences remind us of the importance of taking proactive steps to safeguard our personal and financial information. In this post, we outline actions to consider taking to protect your personal data and accounts.
Investment Key Takeaways—Second Quarter 2019
After global stock markets got a jump start on the year thanks to progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations and a newly “patient” Fed, an abrupt breakdown in the trade talks spurred a sharp market sell-off in May. But stock markets rebounded in June with expectations of Fed rate cuts later in the year and (tentative) signs of re-engagement on the U.S.-China trade front.