Investor column: Women hold key in wealth, legacy planning

January 29, 2013 

Whether nurturing children's financial responsibility, fulfilling charitable goals or making investment decisions impacting their financial security, women are integral to establishing and preserving family wealth.

Women should be involved, informed and comfortable as guardians of family wealth. Active participation in wealth management can strengthen a woman's commitment to protect and grow their assets to leave a legacy for their children, their community and beyond.

These strategies may help you transfer your wealth and your values surrounding wealth to the next generation:

Education leads to confidence.

Attaining financial security for you and your heirs typically requires you to accept responsibility for the management of significant investment assets. Whether single, married or widowed, seek as much education as possible about wealth planning. Even if you don't currently make key family financial decisions, you should gain knowledge in these areas to effectively communicate with your professional advisors charged with these duties.

Use objective, qualified professionals.

Relying on competent professional advice versus family or friends is extremely important when making decisions affecting the accumulation, preservation and distribution of wealth.

What should you expect? A good wealth adviser -- or professional team, such as attorneys and accountants -- should offer guidance/services in most areas of wealth management, including estate planning, retirement planning, tax planning, insurance needs assessment, and college planning. A wealth adviser should work closely with you to:

n Identify areas requiring special assistance, such as creating trusts.

n Minimize taxes and planning costs.

n Develop and implement a personalized wealth management and income plan.

n Assess any financial risks you may face and develop strategies to mitigate them.

n Review your legacy plan periodically and suggest changes when needed.

Philanthropy is integral to legacy planning.

Wealth holders have a greater opportunity -- or responsibility -- to make charitable giving a consideration in legacy planning. Charitably inclined families may have clear goals, but they may not know where to begin.

To help choose the best strategy, work with a trusted adviser to evaluate your specific charitable wishes,

types of assets to be gifted, tax planning objectives and choices among several charitable-giving vehicles, including donor-advised funds, family foundations, gift annuities and charitable remainder/lead trusts.

Teach children the responsibilities of wealth.

Wealth opens doors of opportunity for you, your children, their children and, possibly, generations to come. Yet wealth can be a weighty responsibility that takes time to manage, maintain and preserve. If you are a parent, you may be concerned about the effects of wealth on your children's values and how the "money" lessons you teach them will manifest as they become adults.

Family values should be held in high regard.

Family values -- traits, behavioral patterns, beliefs, goals and morals shared by your family -- define a family's character as much as dollar signs measure a family's wealth. By holding shared values in high regard and making a commitment to financial responsibility, philanthropy and volunteerism for the younger generation, you will enrich your family's legacy for generations to come.

Karin Grablin, CPA, is with SRQ Wealth Management, 1819 Main St., Suite 905, Sarasota; 941-556-9004.

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