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Family Estate Planning

The Biggest Threat to Your Legacy is Family Conflict

According to a recent poll by TD Wealth, 44% of accountants, attorneys, and trust officers believe that family conflict is the biggest threat to your legacy.

Taxes have long been considered the biggest obstacle to transferring wealth, at least by those unfamiliar with the ravages of family conflict. As recently as 2001, the estate tax exemption amount was $675,000, and the value of assets in an estate exceeding that amount was taxed at 55%.

There has never been a more tax-friendly time to leave behind a legacy. Today, as a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the estate tax exemption amount is $11,400,000, and the value of assets in an estate exceeding that amount are taxed at 40%.

Since only a fraction of the population has a taxable estate, it is no surprise that taxes are no longer the biggest threat. The frequency of estate planning for blended families, where family conflict is commonplace, is also on the rise.

In all honesty, it is a bit of a cultural thing, too. Without debating the merits and flaws of the Boomers, Gen Xers, Millenials, and the Me Me Me generation, I think we can all agree that the average sense of entitlement has grown. Americans are generally over-consuming and materialistic people. So, in today’s society, where It’s All About the Benjamins and It Takes a Village, it is easier to discard family in a fight over money.

A good estate planner will mindfully listen to you, learn your estate planning goals and family dynamics, and help you craft an estate plan that avoids, or at least curtails the risk of, family conflict.

I hear “I’ll be dead and gone, what do I care?!” too often from clients that have amassed wealth. I would not have a problem with that sentiment if the client’s “estate plan” truly consisted of spending it all before death. More often than not, however, the idea of extravagantly spending hard—earned dollars flies directly in the face of their lifestyle and values.

The truth is nearly everyone wants to leave something behind – a legacy – for their children, charities, and friends. If you are concerned that family conflict threatens your legacy, please contact our office for a complimentary review and consultation of your current estate plan.