5 things to understand about wealth transfer
From gifting money to children to transferring ownership of a home, it's important to understand some parameters for passing on inheritance.
One reason some people focus on building wealth over a lifetime is to be able to pass along resources and provide opportunities to their children and grandchildren. But it takes time and planning — as well as conversations about expectations and shared values — to have this transfer work well for everyone.
From worrying about estate taxes to keeping a house in the family, there are various concerns about the transfer of wealth. So, what is the best way to pass on an inheritance and set up an estate transfer the way you want? Consider these steps.
Establish some wealth transfer goals
Goals are different for everyone. Some people want to leave a large sum to their children, others would rather leave their assets to charity. Still others prefer to share their wealth with their family during their lifetimes.
It’s not unusual for parents to pay for their child’s education and use the remainder of their savings to enjoy retirement. Others may prefer to help their children along the way and pay for a wedding or first home.
Understand the tax law implications on gifting money
With a current exemption of more than $12 million per individual, the estate tax may not affect the vast majority of people, but it's an important consideration for high-net-worth individuals. People who want to distribute their wealth during their lifetime can also take advantage of annual gift exclusions (check with a tax advisor for current limits). This allows individuals to make non-taxable gifts of a certain amount per year to as many people as they want — meaning that a couple could give their four grandchildren a larger total per year, tax-free.
Utilize transfer-on-death accounts
Protect the wealth in your home
By working with a lawyer or financial planner, you may be able to reduce the amount your heirs must pay in preparing to sell your home if they sell it. An attorney or financial planner may also be able to provide options to pay for nursing care in the event that Medicaid is involved.
Involve your family in wealth transfer discussions
It may be helpful to have a transparent conversation with your family about how you would like your wealth distributed. This conversation is also an opportunity to provide an explanation for your request and to answer questions your family may have. You may also consider sharing information about budgeting, using credit wisely, saving and investing to help loved ones manage their finances.