Step 1. Develop A Family Vision
- Start by creating a family tree. The evaluation of wealth transfer objectives and of wealth transfer strategies will benefit from the involvement of an estate planning attorney. To best explore all the options for building your specific plan, your attorney will need to know all the players in your family—or families—and how they may factor into your intentions.
- Understand your wealth transfer objectives. Consider whom you wish to receive a portion of your assets, and when. Then, put together a list of objectives, covering such topics as:
- Wealth transfer: How can you help ensure that your assets will be transferred smoothly to your heirs? Beyond having a will and estate plan, you may want to set up trusts.
- Health care: How do health care and/or long‐term care needs factor into your financial plan? Fidelity estimates that an average 65‐year‐old couple will spend $285,000 in retirement on health care costs.
- Philanthropy: What causes are most important to you and your family? How do you want to support them?
- Living expenses: Do you want to provide financial assistance to family members, such as your parents, children, or grandchildren, or to relatives who require special care?
- Education: Do you want to contribute to your children's or grandchildren's education? Contributions to 529 college savings plans or direct tuition payments to an institution can lower your taxable estate.
- Incapacitation: Whom do you want to make key decisions to help protect your family if you're unable to make your wishes known? One of 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia.
We will discuss step 2 next.