Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New Focus for Estate Planning

Family.happy_Among wealthy families, there is a seeming disconnect between their current wealth plans and what they actually want their wealth to accomplish. Many affluent parents believe in leaving wealth to the next generation, but few believe their putative heirs are capable of handling the incoming assets. Most of these families also believe in creating some sort of guidelines to manage this wealth, but few actually implement these guidelines. Some of these problems stem from traditional planning.

 Traditional estate planning focuses on assets and tends to overlook the individual.  This, along with proliferation of planning software, has made estate planning a product for the masses instead of the individual.  Modern planning should be based on the unique needs of the client. This entails planners undertaking an increased examination of the needs, talents, capacity, and weaknesses of the beneficiaries. There are a few possible solutions to traditional planning problems. One possible solution is to involve a family consultant or coach to take part in the estate planning in order to help the family create a mission statement reflecting their values. Another step is to encourage openness and conversation between parents and children who are beneficiaries. And finally, add purpose to the planning. A significant percentage of affluent families have said that their estate plans ignored their personal goals. Creating a mission statement prior to estate planning may alleviate this issue. Whatever the solution for the client, holistic wealth transfer and the needs of the beneficiaries should be the main focus of estate planning.

See David R. York & Andrew L. Howell, Pushing Wealth Transfer Plans into the 21st Century, Wealth Management, May 12, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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