We all need a reminder once in awhile that estate planning is NOT just about the money. Often our clients ask how they should gift to their loved ones. We commonly set up trusts for charities, children, and grandchildren.
In addition to passing along dollars, we emphasize the value of gifting an experience. For example, while you are alive and well, fund a trip to Yosemite National Park, Santa Barbara, or the Grand Canyon. Or treat your family to a musical or theatrical production and introduce them to your love of the performing arts.
In our years of estate planning, we’ve found that memories and experiences are highly treasured. In fact, they are more highly treasured then the passage of dollar bills.
Other gifting ideas, which you are free to adopt or adapt, include:
- Paying for a grandchild’s college tuition or setting up a 529 Plan for college savings
- Passing along a treasured family heirloom that has special meaning and memories to a loved one
- Having tea every thanksgiving using a treasured tea set brought over on the Mayflower
- Paying for a personal development course for your daughter-in-law
- Taking the family to a mountain retreat for a week
So long as you give with an open heart and no regrets, there are no wrong ways to gift. If you wish to gift significant sums of money or wish to retain a family vacation home for the next generation, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney for guidance. That is not a road to travel alone.
Gifting into a trust is likely the best alternative. Trusts provide instructions as well as asset protection. Asset protection means that the family vacation home can’t be lost if one of your children or grandchildren gets divorced, goes bankrupt, or is otherwise sued.
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