Among affluent families, the disconnect between what their current wealth transfer planning does, and what they want their planning to do, is staggering. While 75 percent of wealthy parents say it’s important to leave an inheritance to the next generation, only 20 percent agree strongly that their children will be prepared to handle the wealth they receive. Although 54 percent of the wealthy believe their family would benefit from developing a formal set of principles to guide the purpose and meaning of their wealth, only 10 percent of them have done so. And, while the affluent are looking for customized solutions, fully one-half of them think that their current estate plan is too complicated.
Traditionally, estate planning has been asset focused, and as a result, it rarely considers the individuals, personalities and unique dynamics of each family. It’s based on a linear way of thinking; that is, if transferring some wealth is good, it follows that transferring more wealth is better.
In addition to being asset focused, traditional estate planning is too often generic, resulting in a cookie-cutter approach. Estate-planning software has only exacerbated this issue. All too often, estate planners focus on transferring financial resources using the alphabet soup of GRATs, DGTs and SCINs without contemplating how to transfer the values that helped create that wealth to begin with — like gratitude, wisdom and determination.
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