Though you might spend a lot of time building toward that retirement you’ve always wanted, it’s important to also consider what kind of legacy you’ll leave behind once you’re gone. You want to feel confident that your assets and wealth go to the right people in a clear and accurate way. For many, this would be their children—the next generation you have worked hard to leave an inheritance for. Creating a financial plan for the next generation comes with its own set of challenges, but is vitally important for the future of those you love.
But you don’t have to wait until you’re gone to start sharing your wealth with the next generation. There are things you can do today that can help give your children the head start they need—and shield your finances as well.
Make Direct Payments
Simply making direct payments for your children or grandchildren’s expenses is one of the easiest ways to transfer your wealth without the hassle of taxes. Many institutions will allow you to pay your grandchildren’s tuition directly from your account. You can also conveniently take care of other important expenses, such as medical expenses, by automating payments to their healthcare provider.
When you make this sort of payment to an organization or institution, it helps you bypass the burden of gift tax, which can be a hefty price to pay on your assets. However, if you gift the money directly to the recipient, you might still be subject to gift taxes.
Give Annual Gifts
You could also decide to gift some of your assets to your loved ones. Giving gifts helps you reduce the taxable portion of your estate, and you can gift up to $17,000 for 2023 to a loved one before any gift taxes are incurred. If you are splitting the gift with your spouse, you can give up to $34,000 combined for 2023. To effectively transfer wealth to the next generation, you can ensure that you give the maximum amount every year.
It’s worth noting that once you gift more than these limits, the excess amount spills into the “lifetime exclusion bucket.” You must use this entire amount before the IRS requires you to pay gift tax. For 2023, the current lifetime exclusions are $12.92 million and $25.84 million for individuals and married couples, respectively. You will be required to file a gift tax form for any amounts that exceed the annual gifting limits, individually or jointly. This is how the IRS will track your lifetime exclusion amount.
Another great way to transfer wealth to your children and grandchildren is through the use of 529 college savings plans. There is a special provision that allows donors to contribute 5 years’ worth of gifts as a lump sum. This means for 2023, an individual can gift up to $85,000 and a married couple could gift up to $170,000 without incurring gift taxes! The beneficiary can then withdraw the funds and the investment growth tax-free to pay for qualified education expenses.
Creating a trust is another way to transfer wealth to the next generation. To oversee the use of your assets, you can create a trust with specific guidelines for passing your wealth to beneficiaries.
When your estate is significant, an irrevocable trust comes in quite handy. You transfer all your assets from your estate to your trust, thereby bypassing estate tax. Additionally, when you accrue income on the assets you hold in your trust, you are not personally responsible for paying taxes since the trust is considered a separate entity. As such, the trust will be taxed directly on any retained income and beneficiaries will be taxed on any distributions of income. This is an effective wealth transfer strategy since beneficiaries are typically in lower tax brackets.
It’s also important to note that irrevocable trusts are permanently binding; you cannot change any of the terms nor beneficiaries. Once you have handed over your wealth to the trustees, they manage and transfer it according to your specific wishes.
Consider the Gift of Time
I’m noticing more and more that it’s not as much about leaving money to your children as it is enjoying the fruits of your lifelong labors through quality time with them while you’re still alive. Experiences shared as a family will mean much more to your kids than a fancy car on their 16th birthday. Rather than safeguarding your wealth to be left after you’re gone, consider buying a vacation home where everyone can gather or taking your whole family on that dream trip to Paris. These experiences will produce lifelong memories that are likely more impactful than leaving them a larger inheritance.
Consult With a Wealth Advisor
How to appropriately share your wealth with your loved ones can be complex (and possibly frustrating), but you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Partnering with a wealth advisor can help you critically think about the right direction to take your finances while encouraging you to create the life you’ve always envisioned.
At T.M. Wealth Management, our goal is to help you create a financial road map for living on purpose that serves you and those you love. To get in touch today, give us a call at (703) 537-8351 or email email@example.com.
Thomas R. Seneca is Managing Partner at T.M. Wealth Management, a wealth management firm that focuses on independent, boutique, and fiduciary services for clients. After gaining extensive finance and investment experience working as an investment banker on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, Thomas had a desire to work more closely with clients and positively impact their lives by helping them make better financial decisions. He started his own practice and now works with successful professionals to help them simplify their financial needs and optimize their wealth to pursue their goals. Thomas knows the positive impact that good financial decisions can have on families and individuals, and he strives to help give clients financial confidence so they can spend their time on what matters most to them.
Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Thomas is an avid golfer, fluent in Spanish, and served as an adjunct finance professor at Virginia International University in the Washington, D.C., area. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and attending church. To learn more about Thomas, connect with him on LinkedIn.