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Friday
Jan142011

Wealth Transfer: Preparing for the End

As a physician, getting your financial house in order is an organized process just like seeing and treating patients.

Let’s summarize what I’ve been discussing in previous posts:

  1. Forget investment products. Your personal goals should be the primary driver of the rest of your financial life
  2. Before you focus on investments, protect what you already have
  3. After you’ve secured your assets, only then can you focus on building your wealth portfolio.

And that brings me to the final big area of your financial life you need to address in order to have a unified wealth management plan. And that’s wealth transfer, which is the efficient redistribution of your wealth after death and during life.

Notice that most people think of transferring their wealth after death via a will, but that’s only one aspect of wealth transfer. Wealth transfer encompasses 3 aspects of financial planning: estate planning, gifting, and education planning.

Let’s take a look at the relevant questions you need to answer to have an effective wealth transfer strategy:

  1. When was the last time I reviewed my will with an estate planning attorney?
  2. Alternatively, do I even have a will? (I know numerous physicians who don’t have a will, so if you don’t, then draft one…NOW!)
  3. Who are the executors, trustees, and beneficiaries in my will and are they still accurate?
  4. Do I have successor executors and trustees in my will?
  5. Are appropriate provisions in place for minor children, such as naming guardians?
  6. Have I titled my assets to minimize the chance of being subject to probate after I die?
  7. Have I titled my assets to minimize the effect of estate taxes upon my death?
  8. Will I or my spouse be subject to estate tax upon death?
  9. Are the beneficiary designations on my life insurance policies as I wish? Do I have secondary beneficiaries on my life insurance policies?
  10. Do I have a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care?
  11. Do I need to buy permanent life insurance for liquidity purposes upon my death?
  12. Do I need to start a gifting program during life to remove assets from my estate?
  13. Am I giving to charity in the most income tax and estate tax efficient way?
  14. Do I have provisions in my will to give my wealth to my favorite charities (for philanthropic reasons and for estate tax reasons)?
  15. What types of trusts do I need to set up during life and after death for estate tax minimization, asset protection, and for appropriate distribution of my wealth?
  16. What types of college funding vehicles are most tax efficient and how much do I need to save for my children’s education to meet their college funding requirements?

That rounds out a good list of questions that you need to address to get your entire financial life and wealth management plan in order—from wealth protection to wealth enhancement and ultimately to wealth transfer.

But, as they say, that’s just the beginning. Now it’s time to start implementing strategies to meet your goals. And that’s what I’m going to help you with from here on.

Reader Comments (2)

Great reminder. I recently went through some of this process. It's so important and something we all seem to just keep putting off - I know I did until a friend kept on me about it. Thanks for the great info!

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for the comments and glad you enjoyed the post. Most physicians put off financial planning because it's not much fun to address these types of issues. Unfortunately the longer you put it off, the worse the situation gets. At some point you have to address these issues. Inertia is a key trait I've seen with physicians and their finances--doctors simply don't want to change anything even though they SHOULD change almost everything. Usually I see so unified investment plan or wealth management plan--it's usually a jumble of investment products. Hope to help other physicians make sense of all this.

Setu

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