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Legacy Matters

November 15, 2018

Legacy Planning Tools to Preserve Family Wealth

I went to Washington D.C. in late October for the Fall Meeting of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). I always look forward to the ACTEC meetings because they provide a great opportunity to hear presentations from the best attorneys in the profession about recent trends, developments, changes in the law and best practices for serving our clients. 
 
The Fellows are a collegial group who are always willing to share their experiences and knowledge with others, and this knowledge base is vast and deep. ACTEC consists of approximately 2,500 peer-elected Fellows deemed as the premier estates and trusts attorneys in the United States and around the world. Their reputation is widely recognized for excellence in the profession, with a strong record of enhancing the profession through teaching, writing and service to the Bar. We are uniquely fortunate at Warner to have six Fellows in our ranks, including myself.
 
This fall’s ACTEC meeting offered several interesting options, but I made a special point to attend the Legacy and Generational Planning Subcommittee breakout session. The subcommittee is led by John A. Warnick of Denver – a longtime friend, collaborator and leading practitioner with deep expertise in creating plans that are designed to meet the needs of multigenerational families. This subcommittee focuses on issues related to preserving family wealth and values. 
 
Here at Warner, my partners and I spend much of our time helping high net worth families develop plans to pass along their financial assets, as well as their values, knowledge and sense of family identity, to the next generations. For that reason, I was especially looking forward to this subcommittee’s discussion.
 
The Legacy and Generational Planning Subcommittee used its time to discuss a survey it plans to circulate among ACTEC Fellows to ascertain the extent to which Fellows incorporate legacy planning into their estate planning services and the kinds of activities they engage in. The survey will inquire about tools such as:
 
  • Letters of Wishes, statements of intent or other customized guidance to trustees and beneficiaries for administering family trusts;
  • Roadmaps/summaries for estate plans;
  • “Owner’s Manuals” describing the duties, responsibilities and best practices of trustees to assist them in administering trusts;
  • Education programs for younger generation family members to prepare them to be informed and effective beneficiaries, trustees, business managers, investors and philanthropists;
  • Mission and vision statements and family constitutions;
  • Exercises to discover shared family values; and
  • Family meetings.
 
We have employed these tools for years at Warner as a part of our holistic wealth planning. These tools contribute to preservation and growth of financial wealth, as well as the growth of the family’s human, social and intellectual capital. We firmly believe that if used appropriately and in the right circumstances, these tools benefit our clients and their families. Seeing the survey and listening to the conversation among the subcommittee members left me proud to be part of Warner’s Private Client and Family Office Practice and confirmed that we are ahead of the curve in employing these best practices with our clients.
 
If you would like to learn more about these tools and how they might enhance your estate planning or help your family, please contact your Warner attorney or Mark Harder at mharder@wnj.com or at 616.396.3225.

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