Share Your Legacy this Holiday

It is the holiday season, a time of year when our thoughts naturally turn to family.  This is also a good time to reflect on your plan for sharing your abundance with your family, both during your lifetime (now or in years to come) and after you’re gone.  To leave the type of legacy you desire, and do so without risking the damage money can do to family relationships, a detailed plan can be invaluable.

Here are a few steps to consider:

  • Assess your estate plan – If you haven’t done this, or haven’t reviewed it in the last five-to-ten years, take time to determine (or reaffirm) your estate plan—and make sure that it is implemented by your attorney.  Perhaps nothing has changed, but every five-to-ten years both you and your attorney should review (and update) your plans to make sure.  This includes your:
    • Will;
    • Trust, whether it is the “living” type (funded during your lifetime) or “testamentary” (created and funded at your death);
    • Advance Directive, Power of Attorney, and other documents essential to your plan;
    • Beneficiary designations on your IRA, 401(k) plan, annuities and/or life insurance.
  • Plan for maintaining your financial independence – This means having a Financial Plan, which will help you make sure that you are living within your means (including having enough savings to last the rest of your life), and also allow for health care expenses down the road.
  • Assess the financial implications of health care needs – Learn and review with your financial advisor:
    • What Medicare does and doesn’t cover;
    • Based on your family history (longevity, medical problems, etc.), think about health-related expenses you’ll likely need to manage/pay for on your own.  This includes long-term care (LTC) services, which Medicare will not cover.  You might not need LTC, but, thanks to modern medicine, most of us will live long enough to need it; and
    • Consider whether it is advisable to purchase LTC insurance to cover at least a portion of those potential LTC costs.
  • Share your wishes with your family – It can take some time to initially think through your estate and legacy plans, pull all of the pieces together, and periodically review them.  It is very normal for those plans to evolve over time.  Sharing the details with your family not only can reveal their preferences and suggestions, but it can help set expectations.  Hearing from you that you want things to be handled a certain way can head off debates, e.g., what someone thinks you wanted, that sometimes damage family relationships after you’re gone.
  • Introduce family to your financial, tax and legal advisors – These introductions can ease the transition and help ensure that everyone is on the same page, so that your plans can be carried out as you wish.

The holidays are a time for great food, friends and especially family.  Reviewing the steps above during the holidays can help you build and refine your legacy plans.  Perhaps more important, communicating your wishes now can help maintain strong family relationships long after you’re gone.

Viridian is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with clients across the United States. Viridian offers financial planning, investment management, and tax services (through its sister company, Viridian Tax and Accounting).

This article was written by Shannon McCarty, Viridian’s Director of Marketing.

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