John Solomon, Executive Vice President, Wealth Advisory
When it comes to passing assets down to the next generation, many parents worry heirs are ill-equipped to handle sudden wealth. In a recent survey, 80% of Americans said they planned to transfer their wealth, but only 45% actually had a plan in place (State Street Global Advisors). For those with a plan, the focus seems to be on the technical aspects of the transfer—wills, trusts and other estate planning strategies.
Wills and trusts, when prepared correctly, can help transfer wealth efficiently and effectively. They help provide direction on how to divvy out assets and can even give guidance to heirs about how to manage this new wealth. An ethical will, on the other hand, aims to transfer intangibles like life lessons, core values, aspirations, and wisdom.
Ethical wills, also known as legacy letters, are not legally binding, but they present a way to talk about values and beliefs pertaining to wealth and help to share personal lessons you have learned along your journey. Most importantly, it helps you articulate what it is about money that is important to you; how your wealth fueled your passions and enabled you to support the ones you love. It’s a place to talk about your past financial successes and failures.
Money has long been considered a taboo topic because it is emotional and highly revealing. How you handle your money and the thought-process you use for spending and making investment decisions speaks to your core values and the inner force driving your actions. An ethical will can help you describe your relationship with money, explain how you used your wealth to bring your hopes and aspirations to fruition, and how you would like your wealth to serve the next several generations. It also gives you an opportunity to provide historical perspectives and references and bring to light past financial successes and failures. You can explain how your wealth was initially created and if it was even passed down through the generations prior. The goal in sharing your family’s financial ancestry is to emphasize family values and the profound impact they have made in your life.
Communication is the key element of successful wealth transfer. An ethical will gives that one last opportunity to punctuate what truly matters to you about the wealth your heirs will inherit.
The Brinker Capital Wealth Advisory team delivers exceptional service and support to meet the unique wealth management needs of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth investors, family offices, institutions, and endowments.The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.