Women are frequently the last remaining member of their generation. That means they have the final say as to the disposition of their wealth and it is often a burden to them. I’ve had more than one client tell me that having wealth is a heavy weight to carry. Even with moderate wealth, it can be hard to decide how to dispose of it. There are many considerations to think about. Is there an heir with a substance abuse issue, one with a spending problem, or maybe one in a difficult relationship? All these concerns come up when trying to make plans about how they wish their hard-earned assets to be distributed and spent after they have passed.
For families without these issues, the decision may be a simple one to distribute directly to the next generation. But what if the next generation has accumulated their own wealth and don’t need Mom and Dad’s money? Then the decision may be to bypass their own children and pass the assets to grandchildren. If those children are still underage or maybe not mature enough to handle an influx of cash, or with the concerns mentioned earlier, the decision may be to set up a trust for those beneficiaries. It’s not appropriate in every situation but with special circumstances, it may be the best choice. I generally recommend that the family use a corporate trustee to avoid having any conflicts within the family. I believe maintaining those relationships to be of primary importance.
Every family situation is different and should be approached with that in mind. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
Beyond a will and or a trust, there are other things to consider. A Living Will or Advanced Care Directive is also an important document to think about and can raise some uncomfortable feelings. If you’re in a life-threatening situation and there is little or no hope for recovery, how do you wish your body to be cared for? Do you want to be fed, or not? Do you wish for extreme measures to be taken on your behalf, or not? It’s good to talk these things through with family members or trusted friends before making those decisions.
There are also Power of Attorneys and Health Care Power of Attorneys to consider. Who would you wish to act on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions for yourself?
These are all important issues to talk about with your financial advisor, your family members, and ultimately with an attorney who can take your wishes and put them into legal documents.