Can Your Wealth Management Firm Help You Plan Your Legacy?

Affluent investors often work with their wealth management firm to develop a sophisticated legacy (estate) plan. This plan typically addresses how your assets will be overseen and distributed when comes time of the passing of you and/or your spouse.

Even though it can be an uncomfortable subject to discuss, this article is focused on the importance of having a legacy plan in place and how your wealth management team can assist in both the creation of the plan as well as the execution of the plan for multi- generations.

In an oversimplified sense, there are four places your assets can go: Heirs, organizations, particular nonprofits, and the IRS. If you are like most people, you want to minimize the amount going to the IRS and maximize the amounts going to heirs and organizations (church, alma mater, a certain association, and other worthy causes) that you believe in and want to support.

It takes some serious thought and consulting with estate planning experts to develop a strategy that achieves all of your financial goals. In this article, we will provide some valuable tips that will help you optimize your estate and legacy planning interests.

  • What is legacy/estate planning?
  • What are the consequences of not having a legacy (estate) plan?
  • How to find a wealth management firm that provides legacy planning?
  • Can my wealth management firm help me execute a multi-generational wealthlegacy plan?
  • How can wealth management help?


What is legacy planning?

text on a brick wall about legacy planning washington dc areaIn short, a legacy is something that lives on after you and your spouse are both gone. How you distribute your assets in your estate plan can impact how you are remembered by the people and organizations that you care about.

How do you want to be remembered, what do you want to be remembered for, who do want to remember you?

For example, a donation to your alma
mater funds a scholarship in the name of you and your spouse. For some, this could mean your name goes up on one of the buildings on the campus.

In fact, legacy planning can refer to any type of bequest or gift that is made after you pass. Legacy planning in the Washington D.C. area should be part of the estate planning process that documents how you want your wealth distributed and used after you and your spouse are both gone.


What are the consequences of not having a legacy (estate) plan in place?

Estate planning is different from financial or retirement planning because you are planning for what happens to your assets after you and your spouse are both gone. Your goal is distribution and not accumulation or preservation.

Estate planning includes several legal steps, for example, a written will and the use of trusts that may be funded while both spouses are still alive.

An estate plan, along with the legal documents, is a way to control the disposition of your assets after you are gone and/or if you become incapacitated. This step in the life planning process expresses your wishes for the distribution of the assets you have spent a lifetime accumulating.

How you choose to distribute the assets will also determine the services your estate will need to ensure your wishes are carried out.

There are many unintended consequences that can occur if you become incapacitated or pass without having an estate plan that includes a medical directive, power of attorney, and/or a will, including:

  • No control over who may receive your assets after you pass
  • Unnecessary disputes among your family members
  • No control over your medical care
  • No control over your financial affairs
  • Having your loved ones make difficult decisions about your care
  • Heirs may lose their inheritance if they are not able to make sound decisions
  • Your assets could go to people you don’t want to give assets to
  • The time-consuming and very expensive process of probate


How to find a wealth management firm that provides legacy planning?

As a successful individual, you’ve worked hard to get where you are in life. If your financial situation is more complex and sophisticated with assets such as retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate, and insurance policies, you should work with a wealth management firm that can assist in developing a comprehensive legacy plan for you and your family.

When you are interviewing wealth management firms in Washington DC, you can ask them questions like:

  • How can you help limit any tax liabilities to my loved ones when I’m gone?
  • Can you coordinate with my attorney and/or accountant?
  • Can you provide wealth management services to my family once I’m gone?
  • Can you provide special-needs planning and ongoing investment management

for my child?

The benefit of working with a wealth management firm vs. trying to execute an estate plan by yourself is they can also assist your family members with the execution of your legacy plan if you are no longer able to do so.

This provides a high level of continuity to your loved ones as your wealth management firm will have a deep understanding of your assets and holdings as well as have an understanding of your wishes as documented within the estate plan.


Can my wealth management firm help execute a multi- generation wealth legacy plan?

When selecting a wealth management firm to help you create an estate plan, you want to ensure they are well-established, knowledgeable, and they also have a succession plan within their firm. Most wealth management firms have their own succession plans in place should something happen to a principal within the firm.

You should expect that your wealth management firm will be there for your family when your estate plan needs to be executed. This provides a high level of continuity to your loved ones.


Top-quality wealth management firms will ensure your financial objectives are handled with care, sensitivity, and prudence.

The right financial firm will ensure that your assets and interests will be passed on to future generations. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM who is an acknowledged fiduciary can provide the advice and services you and your family need to effectively transfer assets from one generation to the next.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only, and not to be a client-specific suitability analysis or recommendation, an offer to participate in any investment, or a recommendation to buy, hold or sell securities. Do not use this report as the sole basis for investment decisions. Do not select an asset class or investment product based on performance alone. Consider all relevant information, including your existing portfolio, investment objectives, risk tolerance, liquidity needs, and investment time horizon. This report is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to predict or guarantee the future performance of any individual security, market sector, or the markets generally.The information provided in this article represents the opinions of Brown Miller Wealth Management (“BMWM”) and is expressed as of the date hereof and is subject to change. BMWM assumes no obligation to update or otherwise revise our opinions or this article. The observations and views expressed herein may be changed by BMWM at any time without notice. The information may be based on third-party information, which is deemed reliable, but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.
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Author: Christopher W. Brown, CFP®, CIMA®

Christopher W. Brown is the Founder and Managing Principal at Brown | Miller Wealth Management.