For most high-net-worth individuals with millions of dollars earned and saved over the years, it's not enough to just secure wealth for yourself. The overall goal of making that much money is to build and preserve a legacy for you and your family in the decades to come.
That's why family wealth planning matters so much more when you have a lot of money to protect and account for. If you don't plan ahead of time, your wealth and estate could be vulnerable to creditors, lawsuits, and even inappropriate spending by her own family members.
Let's take a closer look at some things to consider when it comes to family wealth planning as a high-net-worth individual like a business owner.
The Importance of Family Wealth Planning
What will happen to your money and estate when you pass away? The truth is simple: you have no idea.
All you can do is set up legal vehicles and a plan that accounts for your wealth and where it will go or how it will be managed when you are no longer around to make decisions about it.
Planning for the distribution or continuity of your estate is important for everyone, but especially those with $10 million or more in net worth.
The more money you leave behind, the more likely it is that creditors and predatory lawyers will try to pounce on it. If you want to make sure your family gets as much of your estate and wealth as possible, you must plan ahead of time.
Here's an example. If you don't make other arrangements, any property or money you have will go through the probate process after you die.
The probate process not only forces your estate to pay for taxes, thereby taking a big bite out of what your descendants can expect to inherit, but it also makes your property and money a matter of public record.
So if you want to preserve the privacy and overall value of your estate for your inheritors, family wealth planning is the only option!
Start Conversations Early
With that in mind, it’s best to start discussing family wealth planning earlier than you think. Generally, there’s no time early enough to start having conversations with your family members and attorneys about your estate, your will, and any trusts you want to set up.
Conversations with Family
You’ll need to speak to family members about your plans for your estate and accumulated wealth. For instance, you can talk to kids or grandkids about who will inherit what. You can also take this opportunity to explain your future decisions regarding:
- Trust distributions and limitations
- Asset inheritance
- Who gets what real estate
- And so on
Making your wishes known is more important than you may think. When it comes to passing down your estate and money, the less confusion your inheritors have, the better.
Conversations with Attorneys
You’ll also need to speak to licensed attorneys and financial experts, of course. In your conversations with attorneys, you’ll want to discuss and outline things like:
- Your overarching goals for your estate and wealth
- The objectives you want to achieve with your wealth in terms of growth, preservation, distributions, etc.
- What you want to protect your estate from
When you work with Dominion, our initial consultation with you is the perfect opportunity to break these things down. Getting to know you and your needs is vitally important, so we make a point of learning about our clients before developing a customized, fully defensible asset protection and preservation strategy for them.
Trusts – Your Chief Tools for Estate Planning and Protection
Though there are many tools you’ll use to protect and pass on your estate, trusts will be some of the most important. There are two broad types of trusts you should consider for family wealth planning.
Estate Planning Trusts
Estate planning trusts are incredibly common and useful. As noted above, they’re valuable by often allowing property and wealth that you pass on to inheritors to skip the probate process (and legally avoid some or all estate taxes).
Depending on your goals and overall strategy, you can set up different types of estate planning trusts, like
- Testamentary trusts, which are created through your will and which only become active after you pass away
- Special needs trusts, which can provide disabled individuals with extra income without disqualifying them from Social Security Disability Income and other government benefits
- Spendthrift trusts, which distribute money or assets to beneficiaries over time
- And more
Your lawyers and financial planners can help you explore even more trust vehicles and ensure you set up the right ones for your unique needs.
Asset Protection Trusts
Asset protection trusts are also crucial. We specialize in setting up offshore asset protection trusts at Dominion, as these wealth preservation vehicles let you give up ownership of specific assets or liquid capital so they can’t be taken through lawsuits or creditor claims.
Any wealth you put into a properly drafted asset protection trust can then be distributed to your beneficiaries at a later date or on an ongoing basis. Plus, as irrevocable trusts, asset protection trusts can’t be changed by a judge or your future descendants (at least, not very easily). These are effectively drafted in steel, so you can rest assured your wishes will continue to be carried out long after you are gone.
Other Tools for Family Wealth Planning
In addition to asset protection trusts and estate planning trusts, you can leverage other tools in your family wealth planning process. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
- Bonds. When you purchase bonds, you effectively loan the government money and receive more than you loaned originally when the bonds “mature.”
Depending on the bonds you purchase and their maturation dates, they could yield quite a bundle for future beneficiaries. You can gift bonds to your kids or grandchildren fairly easily. Since the US federal government is arguably the most secure investment ever, this might be a wise choice to ensure their future financial prosperity
- Insurance policies. You can take out insurance policies, such as life insurance, to make sure your family isn't left without funds in the event of your untimely passing. However, if you are already a high-net-worth individual, many of your other instruments and tools should cover this possibility
- Investments. Naturally, you can make savvy investments with the assistance of financial planners. When you have over $10 million in net worth, you should put that money to work for you so it builds upon itself over time.
Money that sits in the bank doing nothing isn’t worthwhile. The right investments could generate enough liquid capital that your family is set up for generations to come
Work with Legal Experts to Set Up Your Family Wealth Plan Early
Given the diversity of things to consider with estate planning and family wealth transfers, it only makes sense to work with legal experts from the beginning of the process.
There’s no doubt you’re an expert in your arena or industry niche. But you probably aren’t an expert when it comes to estate planning laws, terminology, and case precedents that might affect your family wealth plan. The right legal experts can:
- Provide sound legal counsel
- Help you ensure you set up the right instruments, like trusts, in the right jurisdictions and with the right people. The last thing you want is for your trusts to be set up improperly!
- Answer any questions you have
- Help you formulate a more comprehensive and well-rounded family wealth plan than you have right now. A legal advisor who specializes in family wealth planning, for instance, might introduce topics or questions you haven't thought of
- Help you draft important legal documents
- And more
Family wealth planning could be the most important thing you do in your life, especially if you want to make sure that your children receive the fruits of your labor. Don’t cut any corners with this – you have enough money to pay for premium advisors and legal services. So use them!
Dominion can help you with wealth planning in addition to asset protection. We specialize in helping high-net-worth individuals ensure that their assets are safe and secure by the time those assets need to be passed down to beneficiaries.
Get in Touch with Dominion Today
As you can see, family wealth planning is a highly complex topic, and it’s not something you’ll finalize or hash out over the course of a single evening. The sooner you get started ironing out the details of your family wealth plan, the better.
That's why you should contact Dominion at the earliest opportunity. We help high-net-worth individuals just like you secure their estates and fortunes for their children, grandchildren, and others over not just years but decades.
We can help you set up the most resilient, durable asset protection trust in an offshore jurisdiction and offer you the financial advice you need to develop and maintain an excellent family wealth plan. Contact one of our representatives today.