I'm High-Net-Worth. When Should I Start Estate Planning?

I'm High-Net-Worth. When Should I Start Estate Planning?

December 15, 2023

If you have substantial wealth, the need for estate planning becomes even more significant due to the complexity of your financial situation. But when should you start estate planning if you fall into the HNWI category?

Estate planning is crucial for managing your wealth and protecting your assets so that they are distributed according to your wishes after your passing.  In this blog, we will explore the importance of early estate planning for high-net-worth individuals and the key considerations to remember. Here's what you need to know

The Importance of Early Estate Planning

Estate planning is a solid guide on how you wish your assets to be distributed after passing. Whether your goal is to establish a lasting legacy or secure the financial well-being of your loved ones, starting estate planning early helps to ensure that your intentions are documented and legally binding.

A recent survey showed 73% of respondents had no estate plan. What's even more surprising is that among respondents aged 75 and older, 72% were found to be without an estate plan. While it can be an uncomfortable topic to think about and discuss, postponing estate planning for too long can lead to potential complications and difficulties. 

Let's look deeper at some of the benefits of estate planning for high-net-worth individuals.

The Benefits of Establishing A Trust

As a HNWI, establishing a trust can be a powerful tool for achieving various financial goals and protecting your assets. Trusts offer flexibility, control, and numerous benefits, making them popular among individuals with substantial wealth. 

There are various types of trusts, each designed to serve different purposes. Common types include revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, and special needs trusts. Trusts can help shield your assets from creditors, lawsuits, and other threats. High-net-worth individuals can benefit from using irrevocable trusts for asset protection and estate tax planning. 

Some trusts allow you to serve as the trustee, maintaining control while enjoying the benefits of asset protection and tax planning. The federal estate tax ranges from 18% to 40% and generally only applies to assets over $12.92 million in 2023 or $13.61 million in 2024. It's important to consult with a financial advisor who can help you navigate the complexities of trusts to preserve, protect, and distribute your wealth according to your wishes.

Selecting Trustees and Beneficiaries

Estate planning transcends the mere allocation of assets; it involves pivotal decisions regarding the inheritors of your wealth. For high-net-worth individuals, the meticulous selection of trustees and beneficiaries is paramount in crafting a robust estate plan.

Beneficiaries, slated to inherit your assets upon your passing, can encompass a range of individuals or entities, from beloved family members and friends to charitable organizations close to your heart.

Trustees, on the other hand, assume the pivotal role of overseeing and executing the distribution of assets in alignment with your meticulously outlined estate plan. Their role is instrumental in ensuring the proper management of your wealth.

By thoughtfully handpicking both beneficiaries and trustees, you lay the foundation for effectively realizing your estate plan's objectives. Furthermore, this strategic selection significantly reduces the likelihood of conflicts and delays, assuring you that your assets will be disbursed precisely as you intended.

Minimizing Tax Liabilities

Reducing taxes on what you leave behind is a common estate-planning goal. Estate planning is about protecting your loved ones from potential IRS tax burdens. Essential to estate planning is transferring assets to heirs to create the smallest possible tax burden. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Asset Distribution: An estate plan allows you to specify how you want your assets, including property, investments, and personal belongings, to be distributed among your beneficiaries. Without a clear plan, your assets might be subject to intestate laws, which can lead to unintended outcomes.
  • Business Succession Planning: If you own a business, an estate plan can outline how it will be managed or transferred to successors, providing its continuity and your family's financial future.

Life is constantly changing, and so should your estate plan. Changes in your family structure, financial situation, or legal regulations might necessitate updates to your plan to guarantee it remains aligned with your goals. A fiduciary advisor can help you with any changes that life may bring and help you adapt your plan accordingly.

Regularly Review and Update Your Plan

Estate planning can be challenging — especially for those with a high net worth. You want to protect your family, assets, and business and gain peace of mind knowing you're prepared and in control. Therefore, it's essential to regularly review and update your estate plan to confirm it remains aligned with your goals and takes advantage of any new tax-saving opportunities.

An experienced fiduciary advisor can provide valuable advice and guidance regarding estate planning. At Agemy Financial Strategies, our team of skilled fiduciaries excels in assisting clients with creating robust estate plans. We are committed to providing our clients with the highest level of service, and we will work with you every step of the way to confirm that your estate plan needs are taken care of.

Last Thoughts

Estate planning is not just about wealth preservation; it's about leaving a lasting legacy that reflects your values and priorities. Working with professionals to establish trust is essential to help guarantee your wishes are met, and your assets are protected. 

At Agemy Financial Strategies, you can rest assured knowing that your financial affairs are in capable hands. If you want to learn more about how trusts can benefit your estate planning needs, schedule a complimentary strategy session with us today.