If you want to pass on assets and heirlooms to your heirs there are a few key ways you can help preserve your estate’s value and your family’s inheritance.
It all comes down to careful advance planning. We found guidance on the top three ways to protect your estate’s value and keep peaceful discourse within your family after you pass away.
According to recent estimates, $30 trillion worldwide will be passed from older to younger generations in the next 30 to 40 years. Yet about 70 percent of families lose part of their gifted wealth due to inheritance disagreements according to recent research by The Williams Group, a California firm that helps families disburse estate wealth. That adds up to a lot of valuable assets lost.
Dividing an estate “fairly” into equal shares can be challenging. How can you prevent losses to your estate and maintain family harmony?
A recent report in The Wall Street Journal says the top three most effective ways to build your estate plan to protect your assets and promote family unity include doing the following:
1. Ask yourself what’s fair and what will mean most to your heirs.
Family members often place different value on different assets. Thinking about what each person needs and values may take time and communication. Focusing on what seems most reasonable and fair helps preserve family unity after you pass away.
For example, a parent might start by considering the needs of their adult children and then divide heirlooms or financial assets according to each person’s unique circumstances. For example, you may choose to leave monetary assets to a child who most needs financial support and a vacation home to a child who always enjoyed spending time there. A disabled child who needs funds to provide for long-term care may not value or even use a family vacation home.
2. Make an inventory and communicate with your heirs.
Prepare a list of your financial and digital assets, including heirlooms like jewelry and art. Next, ask your heirs what would be most meaningful to them to avoid misunderstandings based on your assumptions. Finally, divide assets in a balanced way among your beneficiaries.
3. Have your assets appraised.
A “clean” way of dividing assets is to have your property and possessions professionally appraised. Then ask your heirs to choose or request what they’d most appreciate while you are alive and can disburse the distribution fairly. Any items in dispute could be offered for bidding at a family auction for example.
Consistency and fairness are important. Above all, be clear about your decisions and include as many heirs in the discussion as you can to promote trust among family members and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your final wishes.
Read more about how to preserve your estate’s value here.