ESTATE PLANNING: How to Use Your Estate Plan to Pass on Values

ESTATE PLANNING: How to Use Your Estate Plan to Pass on Values

INTRO: Here’s the story of a special project I completed for a client some months ago. My client is a young father – I’ll call him Curt. Curt’s grandfather died about a year ago. His last will and testament provided his great-granddaughters, Curt’s very young daughters, with a significant inheritance.

Curt took this opportunity to consult with me about how to best protect the wonderful inheritance his daughters were about to receive. I proposed to create an irrevocable trust for each daughter under which the funds could be managed by an appropriate trustee, grow over time, and be a special gift to help the girls launch into adulthood.

Not only was it fun to work with Curt on creating trust terms to protect his daughters, it was especially rewarding to see how much Curt cared for his grandfather and appreciated the legacy being passed down. Curt asked me if he could write a letter to provide the trustee of the trusts some guidelines and to elaborate to his daughters about this special legacy being left by their great-grandfather. I heartily encouraged him to do so.

When I read Curt’s proposed letter, I was moved. It was a beautiful gift in its own right.

To my daughters:

My grandfather, your great-grandfather, has left money for you, along with the wish that such funds be placed in trust for your future. This trust is a gift of love.

I offer this brief summary about your great-grandfather’s life as he had relayed to me: He was born with nothing and raised in a neglectful manner within a broken home. He left home penniless at a young age, overcame many difficulties, and lived a long life full of vibrant experiences. Despite limited education, he became a successful businessman, retired to travel the world and later died a multi-millionaire.

Always hardworking and kindhearted, he wanted more for his descendants than he had for himself. His wish was not only to pass along money that may be useful to the recipients, but that said recipients would do their best to foster such funds for the benefit of further generations; that this would be his legacy (he once relayed to me, “Money takes time to grow, real wealth takes generations”).

I wish for these funds to assist you in building a life that you find meaningful and offer you this guidance to do with as you please:

Pursue education and learning.

Learn about any and all subjects that you find interesting and fulfilling. Give yourself permission to enjoy what matters to you. Spend no time worrying about the opinions of others. Educate yourself about budgets, business, banks and investing, because money is best enjoyed when it is working for you rather than you for it. “A penny saved (truly) is a penny earned” and a penny invested can make many more pennies!

Work and contribute.

Do not ever allow yourself to become lazy or dependent on others, nor your trust funds.

“Earning a living is a rite of passage into adulthood, and a shared one among peers. For those with enough money to circumvent that experience, inherited wealth is a burden”

– Madeline Levine.

Be kind and helpful to others.

Give of your time and knowledge, but be ever-mindful of potential costs.

Forge meaningful relationships with your trustees and negotiate any disagreements.

I’ve taken care in selecting those who may serve as trustee. Each knows and loves you. I would like your relationship with each of them to be close and meaningful. It is your responsibility to seek them out and include them in your life. There will be times they make tough decisions, some of which may not be to your liking. Please be forgiving and respectful. I trust they’ll act in your best interests; I ask you to trust in them as well.

I have every intention of relaying to you all the above and more throughout your life, and furthermore of sticking around until you’re old enough to discuss these words together.

Where info is scarce or answers lacking, request help in finding more information and be persistent in your own research. I’m looking forward to having these conversations with you, even if they are likely over a decade away.

Your loving father

This article is intended to provide information of a general nature, and should not be relied upon as legal, tax, financial and/or business advice. Readers should obtain and rely upon specific advice only from their own qualified professional advisors. This communication is not intended or written to be used, for the purpose of: i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; or ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein.

ESTATE & TRUST ADMINISTRATION: Need to find an experienced estate & trust administrator in Walnut Creek CA? Contact Robert Silverman at 925-705-4474 for legal advice on a Revocable Living Trust, “Summary” Estate Administration, Trust/Estate Beneficiary Representation and Will & Trust Disputes.

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