Here at AgingOptions we firmly believe that retirement planning is essential for just about everyone, no matter how modest your estate might be. That’s why in our seminars and on our radio programs we place such emphasis on LifePlanning – our unique, comprehensive approach to creating a retirement plan that’s just right for you. A LifePlan is the ideal blueprint to help the majority of retirees ensure that their legal affairs are in order, their health insurance is in place, their housing choices are clear, their financial plan is solid, and their family is well-informed of their wishes.
But what about those of you with significantly larger than average estates – estates with a net worth of $2 million or more? Does your considerable estate place a heavier planning burden on you? Our answer is definitely yes – but it’s a burden you need not carry by yourself.
In our interactions with high net worth clients, we have discovered repeatedly that these wealthier than average individuals have the same set of priorities:
• They want to preserve their wealth and their legacy;
• They want to find ways to minimize the burden of estate taxes;
• They want to protect the inheritance they’ve saved for their children;
• They want to avoid family feuds and legal battles that are emotionally and financially draining;
• They want to avoid becoming a burden to their loved ones.
Over the years we have worked with hundreds of high net worth clients, and based on our extensive experience there are steps those of you with larger estates simply must take in order to protect your assets and to make certain your wishes are carried out as you age.
One would think that the average well-to-do senior adult would be wise enough to take steps to accomplish these five things, but that’s certainly not the case. (As one anonymous observer has put it, “Money can’t buy smart.”) Sadly, there have been multiple high-profile cases in recent years where wealthy celebrities with plenty of resources have fallen victim to their own lack of planning, with embarrassing and expensive results.
In 2014 the news was filled with stories of the decline and eventual death of music legend Casey Kasem. What really attracted the attention of most of us wasn’t the story of Kasem’s influential career in pop music, but the unseemly fight over his care and his estate as the former radio star suffered from deteriorating mental and physical capacity. The battle over Kasem’s custody, and his money, made for a real-life tabloid soap opera: even an estate valued at $87 million couldn’t buy this celebrity a peaceful life in his waning years. Kasem’s 2014 death in Gig Harbor came after months of legal wrangling over who had the right to make health care decisions for the famous radio star. While his sad tale was played out publicly in the newspapers and tabloids, the lessons from this family saga apply to everyone, especially those with means.
Another more recent battle, one with even higher stakes, involves Sumner Redstone, the billionaire media mogul whose company controls both CBS and Viacom. Redstone has a personal fortune estimated at $5 billion, and his media empire is worth eight times that much. However, the 93-year-old Redstone also suffers from what some claim is advanced dementia, and his diminished capacity has triggered a battle royal between children, grandchildren, business partners, former mistresses – and, of course, armies of attorneys. In the words of the New York Times, “With a fortune estimated at over $5 billion, Sumner M. Redstone could afford the best estate planning that money could buy. What he ended up with is a mess.”
You may not be a media tycoon or radio star, but these tales should raise a red flag in your mind. Your family’s battles over your estate won’t make tabloid headlines, but wouldn’t you rather avoid those unnecessary and painful fights in the first place? Experts that that as many as 70% of estates lose money due to family feuds. Your planning can lessen the likelihood of that kind of strife ever occurring. You can also – with a solid plan in place – make your estate both “divorce-proof” and “creditor-proof,” something Kasem and Redstone should have done.
If some of these concerns describe you, we have the perfect solution. We’re offering a special LifePlanning Seminar for Taxable Estates, on Saturday July 30th from 1:30-3:30pm in Gig Harbor. Rajiv Nagaich of AgingOptions will present an information-packed program specifically designed for those with estates worth $2 million or more. To register, or to find out more about this special event for those with high net worth estates, call us during business hours at (253) 661-3249. You can also register online on the Upcoming Events tab on this website.
Remember, even the wealthy like Sumner Redstone or Casey Kasem can fail to plan adequately. With our help, that won’t happen to you! We’ll look forward to meeting you and helping you protect the estate you worked so hard and so long to build.