This is part of an ongoing series of articles about estate planning and succession planning, written by Joe Maier, JD, CPA, Senior Vice President, Director of Wealth Strategy
In past blogs, I have emphasized the importance of telling your story via a carefully crafted estate plan. This has led to some lively, rich conversations, roused curiosity and prompted people to ask, “Can you give me an example?”
The emphatic answer is yes! Because every client I have ever worked with is unique, each of their stories is as well. Some are simple and straightforward; others are a bit more complicated. Still others are very, very creative and truly reflect the personalities of the client. Here are two shining examples.
John and Judy had a classic Midwestern sensibility: hard workers, good jobs, frugal spenders. With these attributes and no children, they had amassed a sizeable estate (around $9 million) that was growing materially every year. When we sat down, John and Judy had some thoughts that centered around the University of Wisconsin and their nieces and nephews. As we dug into their story, some themes developed.
By taking these unique steps, they ensured that their legacy would live on.
Bob and Sue were both very successful professionals with no children. When I met with them, they wanted to leave their sizeable estate equally to their nieces and nephews. Given that Bob and Sue's siblings were also highly successful, they both lamented that all of their nieces and nephews would have “more money than they would ever spend.” As we delved further, they wanted their wealth to be used to enhance the happiness of their family and began to think about where they found happiness. It was all about experiences, with their favorite being exotic vacations. In fact, Bob and Sue kept journals that detailed these trips – where they stayed, what they ate, who they met.
Bob and Sue's plan
I return to the question I've asked before: What is your story? Does your plan tell it? If not, you may not have the right plan or planner(s). You also need someone on your team who asks the right questions to learn your story and then, like a talented biographer, translates your answers into a compelling narrative. If you do not have that person on your team, keep searching. It matters.
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