What is Wealth Transfer?

Human Capital

Before we can dive too deeply into the question of what is wealth transfer; let’s work on developing a common understanding of what constitutes wealth to begin with.  In my experience, people measure wealth in the physical universe context, limiting it to things like real estate, stocks, bonds, and other tangible assets.  However, I invite a broader definition and context, most specifically, for individuals, families and organizations we need to calculate and consider our human capital as a part of our wealth balance sheets.  Many folks use the term, “Mind, Body, and Spirit.”  There are indeed multiple levels to the game of life and this phrase is prophetically accurate in laying out a roadmap for how to approach each realm.

I see it as our “Mind” in the “mind, body, and spirit” correlating to our mental health and well-being, which simply breaks down to our brain and the things that happen inside of it.  Our physical body strongly correlates to this physical universe that we dwell in and for that reason it also is closely related and connected to the physical assets that are typically associated with wealth.  There is an adage that says, ‘health is wealth’ and this tends to reinforce the point about the physical body being a part of our overall wealth portfolio.  Finally, in dealing with the “mind, body, spirit” trinity the final part of us is that animating spark of our eternal souls, the spirit.

So, when we talk about our personal, family, or institutional/organizational wealth I proffer that it would be wise to contemplate and consider how assets in all three of these realms are accounted for and transferred to future generations.  Most specifically, our human assets, which can be measured in our life experiences, our processes, beliefs, and morals.  In some small way it simply can boil down to teaching someone to fish, as opposed to giving someone a fish.

In the most ideal situation, wealth transfer is a lifelong process of allocating your wealth, including essential elements of your human capital, to provide for and protect the people you love.  When thinking in terms of Legacy Planning wealth transfer will typically include assembling the documents that constitute the four building blocks of legacy – namely formulating a definitive chief aim, crafting a personal mission statement, writing out a strategic life plan, and drafting a personal legacy statement.  If you are charitably inclined, it is also an opportunity to benefit the broader community and establish a tradition of giving.

One component of wealth transfer and often the most thought of is providing for transfer at death, commonly referred to as ‘estate planning.”  Estate planning is limited in that it almost exclusively deals with only the tangible estate or our physical assets and fails to address or contemplate our human capital.  Another equally important component are transfers during your life, or lifetime gifting.  Lifetime gifting may yield tax advantages while allowing you to see the effects of your planning and, sometimes, to reevaluate and reconsider.  Items on the human capital balance sheet may be easier to gift during one’s lifetime because it will allow for conversations and feedback on the experiences, processes, beliefs, and morals shared during one’s life with those who matter most.

A good wealth transfer plan begins with your ideas, your knowledge and your intent.  This series of legacy lessons are designed to help you take a strategic journey from these first thoughts to a plan that is truly your own.  Along the way, it is helpful to keep in mind that there is no perfect combination of wealth transfer strategies.  Instead, there are many alternate means to achieve your goals.

Despite important differences, we do find that every effective wealth transfer plan has these things in common:

  • It considers current realities, both emotional and financial.
  • It succeeds in meeting well-defined objectives.
  • It represents the collaborative effort of a team of professional advisors.

Understanding Generativity

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“Generativity • The ability to generate anything tangible that will exist beyond one’s earthly life; particularly when exhibiting a need to nurture and guide younger people and contribute to the next generation.” 

~ Don West, Jr.

Generativity • A desire to invest one’s substance in forms of life and work that will outlive the self.”

~ Dr. John Kotre

Introducing Don West, Jr.’s Legacy Pyramid

Created by Don West, Jr., who serves as our Director of Education, the Legacy Pyramid is a visual model for a twenty-two part system for multi-generational happiness, success, and prosperity.

The Legacy Pyramid’s methodology integrates lessons and teachings from history’s greatest thinkers including: Coach John Wooden, Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon Hill, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Og Mandino, Stephen R. Covey, Prentice Mulford, Carl Jung, John Maxwell, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, John Kotre, Don West, Jr., James E. Hughes, Jr., and many more.

Stone 1: Humility & Service (Foundation) 
Stone 2: Industriousness (Cornerstone #1) 
Stone 3: Enthusiasm (Cornerstone #2) 
Stone 4: Definitive Chief Aim
Stone 5: Junto/Mastermind/Universal Mind
Stone 6: Iron Grip Control & Management
Stone 7: Imagination
Stone 8: Excercise/Physical Fitness
Stone 9: Habit of Giving & the Law of Saving
Stone 10: Initiative & Leadership
Stone 11: Concentration
Stone 12: Acute & Accurate Thinking
Stone 13: Pleasing Personality
Stone 14: Cooperation
Stone 15: Intentness
Stone 16: Practicing the Golden Rule
Stone 17: Universal Law
Stone 18: Generativity
Stone 19: Competitive Greatness
Stone 20: Self-Control
Stone 21: Self-Confidence
Stone 22: Temet Nosce/Know Thyself

Don often shares how he developed the Pyramid in his speeches, some of the books he cites as primarily influential in developing the Legacy Pyramid include, Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success,” and Hill’s “Laws of Success.”

The staff has gone through the recordings of all of Don’s talks regarding the Pyramid to date and we developed this presentation of “17 Books That Influence The Legacy Pyramid.”

What is a Trust?

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Trust ● a legal entity created through a written document that creates a fiduciary relationship in which one party, known as the trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold title to property and/or assets on behalf of one or more individuals, the beneciciary.

Prince’s Estate Hires 2 Music Execs to Oversee Assets

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Prince died on April 21, 2016 and one of the most urgent questions for the music industry was how quickly the estate could hire professionals to handle the star’s vast collection of songs and other media content.

The answer was two months. On Friday, Bremer Trust, a Minnesota bank that is acting as the special administrator for #Prince’s [#probate] #estate, confirmed that it had appointed two seasoned executives, L. Londell McMillan and Charles A. Koppelman, to manage Prince’s entertainment #assets, according to Marcia A. Jensen, a spokeswoman for the bank.

Read the complete NY Times article here

A Buena Park Plumber Leaves Substantial $2 Million Estate But Only A Copy of Last Will

It is very important that your documents can be located when the time comes.  This estate has substantial assets, 69 cars and multiple properties worth upwards of $2 million dollars, yet there is no clear heir because the most recent will discovered was only a copy.  Make sure your intentions and wishes are honored by keeping your documents in some place other than the trunk of one of your cars as is the case with this deceased plumber.

You can read the complete story in the Orange County Register HERE.

Where are your current estate planning documents stored?

I Am Not Famous, Do I Have a Legacy? Who Needs Legacy & Estate Planning?

So many of the clients that I sit down with begin their objections with I am not some famous celebrity such and such so I do not have a legacy that anybody is going to care about. But what many of us often fail to realize is that in our worlds and to those closest to us, especially our relatives in most cases, we are each and every one of us a superstar – the only difference, the size of our stage. So when you have kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews who look up to you and hang on your every word – those are your fans; that is your audience.  Let’s not forget that all family is not biological, there are also family’s of affinity which develop through the bonds of affinity and choice rather than biology alone.  No matter which type of family you have, I’ll bet that if you close your eyes for ten seconds, maybe you can see their grandkids’ grandkids many generations off into the future.  It is for this far off envisioned future that we lay our plans.

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Each life is a unique story woven and developed over the special circumstances of your lifetime and is therefore priceless and irreplaceable. Once our stories are lost, they are just that – lost, forever. Is there a pressing question that you wish you could pose to one of your ancestors? Do you ever sit and wonder how your family came to be settled in blank place, somewhere town?

Every life is a story, every life is a legacy. We all have the opportunity to be proactive and plan for how our stories, our philosophies, business practices, beliefs and belongings will be handled now in this present moment of our lives as well as moving forward in a strategic and planned manner. This is the foundation of legacy and estate planning. When you look back throughout history you can find some excellent examples of excellent planners. Let’s look at two famous people as examples here.  Examining their lives and bodies of work what do rock legend John Lennon and crooner Bing Crosby have in common – seemingly not very much. However, following their passing, it became clear that each man had been both thoughtful and proactive in planning how their estates would be discreetly handled and efficiently dispersed.

We each have the opportunity to follow the examples of well-organized and proactive individuals or we can take the oft traveled path of the many whose stories are destined to the trash bins of history and who estates and affairs will be sorted out however by whomever.

Which person are you?

Are you going to be proactive and engage in some intentional advanced planning?  Or just let chips fall where they may and do nothing at all?  The choice is yours.

If your answer is yes and you would like to learn more about legacy and estate planning, the next subject in this series is, “What is wealth transfer?” so stay tuned for that coming soon.

Not to worry, there are professionals out there to assist you.  Almost always solid planning reflects a collaborative effort of a team of professional advisors.

What Happens to Facebook & Twitter Accounts When Someone Dies?

What Happens When Someone Dies?

What Happens When Someone Dies?

It is a fact that we’re all going to die, and if you’re on social media sites like Facebook and/or Twitter, you may be curious as to what will happen to your account when you’re gone.  You can express how you would like your account handled by preparing letters of
instruction.

Each social network has their own process and options to handle the profiles and accounts of the deceased.   We are going to cover Facebook and Twitter in this post so continue below to learn more about each site’s policy.

What Happens to Your Facebook When You Die?

What Happens to Your Facebook Profile When You Die?

Facebook

The process for a deceased person’s Facebook account has several different options and is different then many other social media services.  First, Facebook utilizes an online form that allows anyone to notify Facebook about a deceased user by submitting a valid request electronically.  Facebook will then memorialize the account, which means that nobody will be able to log into the account and only confirmed friends at the time of memorializing will be able to see the profile of the deceased.

Unlike Twitter, Facebook allows the confirmed friends to post information and photos on the wall of the deceased, and many people use this as a way to share their thoughts and feelings as well as celebrating the life of the deceased.

In the alternative, Facebook also allows an immediate family member to request that the deceased’s account be completely removed from the site.  In order to do this, Facebook requires that you verify your identity and relationship to the deceased by providing the deceased’s birth and death certificate and proof that you’re a lawful representative of the deceased.

GET A FACEBOOK LETTER OF INSTRUCTION

Do you have a Twitter Letter of Instruction?

Do you have a Twitter Letter of Instruction?

Twitter

When someone dies, it is the responsibility of a family member or person in charge of the deceased’s estate to reach out to Twitter administration and let them know. Along with the information, Twitter will need this individual to provide them with the username of the deceased, a copy of the individual’s ID, a copy of the deceased’s death certificate, and a letter that contains information about the person making the request.  Twitter does  not have an online form and requires requests to be submitted via fax or mail.

This person has the ability to decide whether they want the deceased’s account completely deleted from the site or if they want a backup created of the deceased’s public tweets.

Once Twitter has been notified, the deceased’s account will no longer be found in the Who to Follow section and messages will not be accepted on the page. If a person wants to leave a tweet for a deceased individual, they will have to have login information for the deceased’s account.

GET A TWITTER LETTER OF INSTRUCTION

In the United States approximately 80% of population has not taken the time to prepare any written plans and instructions in the event of death.  It is not a pleasant topic for most people, and pondering what will happen to your social media accounts when you pass is not something that many people think about on a typical day.   By preparing simple letters of instruction for your Facebook and Twitter accounts you ease the burden on those you care about after you die, because they will need this information and will have it neatly compiled and documented.  It’s also a good idea to share the existence of these instructions and how to locate them when necessary with friends and family members so that everyone knows about your wishes.

If someone you love has passed away and they have a Facebook and/or Twitter account, make sure that you let the social networks know as soon as possible so that the proper steps can be taken and their wishes carried out.

A Parable About a Family Business – Pt. I

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It all started out as an idea….

In the beginning there was a great business idea.  When the business started out it was small.  The owner was determined, diligent and talented.  The business grew.

After some time it was a much larger business and had many employees under its roof.    The owner’s children were now grown and some decided to work in the business.  The other children did not, choosing to find their own paths in life.

Soon there were issues, mainly disagreements over what to do with the profits.  The inactive owners wanted to be paid dividends… now!  The active owners saw the need to reinvest profits back into the business for future growth.

The founder was ready to retire.  But there was little savings or liquidity outside the business.  The founder wanted to be conservative and protect the cash flow for himself.  The sons and daughters working in the business wanted to be more aggressive and grow the business to remain competitive.

There was no way for the inactive owners to sell their ownership.  They wanted high dividends to make up for the lack of liquidity.

Without warning one of the owners died suddenly from a unforeseen medical condition.  The owner’s grieving spouse wanted to be bought out immediately.  The business had to borrow money from the bank to repurchase the outstanding shares.

The tensions of keeping the business afloat continued to increase and one of the owners kept bringing the stress home.  Soon there was a divorce.  This event caused a small financial emergency for the business.  Soon there was a demand for more money.  A loan was made to the divorced owner.

Another owner had a gambling problem.  But it was discovered and addressed too late; there were too many credit card bills.  A bankruptcy was filed.  More money was need.  Another loan was made.

The family members stopped taking to each other; there were too many hurt feelings and too much mistrust.

The inactive owners still wanted their dividends, now!  They didn’t understand the internal operations of the business.  No one had explained to them the need to leave the money in the business for it to be competitive in the market.

The founder had never decided who was going to take his place.  It was left up to a committee when he died.  The estate tax bill arrived in the mail.  There had been no planning.  There was no cash or lines of credit available.

There was an auction.  The assets were sold.  The business is gone.  The End.

This is a sad, sad story.  But unfortunately it happens… over and over again.  Does any of this story sound similar or familiar to events or conditions within your family business?  Please don’t let this happen to your family.  We have many tools and procedures to prevent this parable’s effect taking hold within your family business.

*****

Donald L. West, Jr., JD, CTLP,  serves as the Associate Director of Education to the Legacy Institute, is a Chartered Legacy & Trusts Planner, a Personne De Confiance, the Creator of the Legacy Pyramid and co-author of A Step-By-Step Guide To Crafting Personal Legacy Statements.

The Legacy Institute, (A.I.L.E.P.), is an organization devoted to empowering families and closely-held business entities cultivate multi-generational connectedness, growth and prosperity.

What is an Estate?

Everything you own constitutes your estate.

Everything you own constitutes your estate.

There is a common misbelief that “estates” are something that only the rich and famous possess. This misconception is possible because most people have no idea what constitutes an estate to begin with. On TV and in the movies the term estate is only used to describe or reference the rich and the wealthy, often describing huge lavish property and elegant decorations. In fact, any property, no matter how small or large, humble or extravagant is part of an estate. Land, condos, duplexes, townhomes, apartments and the single family home all make up people’s estates.

Simply put, an estate is everything that a person owns. It includes your favorite guitar, your collection of family photographs, your residence, cash, stocks, bonds, and other investments, retirement plans and businesses you own. If you are a creator, your estate includes all your works, including your paintings, drawings, prints, manuscripts, copyrights, trademarks and patents. For estate tax purposes, your estate also includes all life insurance policies in your name as well as your IRA’s or other retirement accounts. So again, your estate includes everything that you own, this includes all of your personal property, such as vehicles, jewelry, collectables and other treasured items.

Your estate is everything that you own. You own things, so congratulations… you have an estate.

*****

Donald L. West, Jr., JD, CTLP,  serves as the Associate Director of Education to the Legacy Institute, is a Chartered Legacy & Trusts Planner, a Personne De Confiance, the Creator of the Legacy Pyramid and co-author of A Step-By-Step Guide To Crafting Personal Legacy Statements.

The Legacy Institute, (A.I.L.E.P.), is an organization devoted to empowering families and closely-held business entities cultivate multi-generational connectedness, growth and prosperity.