In 2023, the Federal Reserve revealed that generational wealth in the U.S. reached a staggering $140 trillion. What's interesting is that Baby Boomers account for just shy of half of that wealth. But here's the thing – this transfer of wealth doesn't have to wait until the time of death. Baby Boomers are well aware of the importance of future planning, especially in the face of discussions about new laws affecting high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals. So, the big question is how to make sure this wealth transition to your minor children goes off without a hitch.
When you're hashing out your legacy plans with your attorney, they'll probably recommend creating a trust for minors as part of the handover process. This is an excellent way to ensure that the wealth is transferred exactly as you intend it to be. You can strategize the allocation, plan preemptive distributions, and make sure the beneficiaries receive the funds as you intended. Beyond all the benefits of this approach, the main win here is that it helps you avoid probate and steer clear of the nightmare scenario of funds getting locked up in an account for the minor.
Having dealt with a blocked account firsthand in Washington, it’s my opinion it's at the detriment of the child beneficiary. The court system steps in, assigns a case worker, evaluates the assets' division at the estate's expense, and then locks the funds in an account until the child reaches adulthood. These locked accounts have modest growth and typically sit in a basic savings account. If you want to steer clear of this mess, your options are to go through the hoops of becoming a guardian ad litem, appealing to the court for that role, and satisfying several financial responsibilities to gain the court's approval. It's a hassle, and to make matters more frustrating, finding a lawyer in Seattle to help with this process is no walk in the park.
Now, there's another way to avoid the probate maze, and it's through beneficiary statements and transfer on death instructions. Depending on the type of account, this can be another fantastic option for minors. The key takeaway here is this: don't leave a financial puzzle for your heirs to sort through. Make sure your wealth transfer aligns with the best interests of the recipient. If you have any questions about wealth transfer or have recently come into an inheritance, give me a call. I'm here to help you piece together the most tax-efficient strategy possible.