The idea of building a comprehensive wealth strategy plan can be overwhelming, which is why many of us put off getting started. Christine Graham, executive vice president/chief fiduciary officer and director of trust administration, and Kim Gattis, senior vice president and financial planner, share how to map out a plan, some key elements to consider, and actionable steps you can take now to build a successful wealth strategy plan.
A wealth strategy plan is a comprehensive strategy designed around your personal circumstances, including your family and wealth, as well as your individual goals and objectives. Common elements of a wealth strategy plan include financial planning, estate planning, business succession planning, charitable or philanthropic planning, career planning, and future impact planning. Some individuals will only have two or three of these elements in their plan, while others could have all six. The number of elements in your plan may also depend on what stage of life you are in. Let’s take a look:
In many ways, getting started is all about gathering information. First, you should take inventory of your assets and liabilities so that you and your advisors have a good understanding of what you are planning for and what you have to work with. This is not just the value or amount of your assets, but also includes what kind of assets you own and how they are titled. As part of this inventory, we also recommend including any anticipated inheritance that you are aware of as an inheritance event can have a real impact on your plan.
Second, make sure your advisors are aware of your personal family circumstances and career path. Building a family tree is a great way to provide your advisors with an overview of your family dynamics. Outlining your career path and whether you expect to work for an employer, be an independent contractor, or start your own business, will also help guide your planning. The more your advisors know about you, the better able they are to help you build a meaningful plan. Third, you need to identify your personal goals and objectives. Once these items have been identified, you can start building your plan.
Life Events to Consider
It’s important to recognize that everyone is at a different stage of life. Because of this, our plans won’t all look the same. Some life events may be the trigger that gets you thinking about establishing some form of planning. For many, having a child is the life event that first gets them started on setting up an estate plan. Other life events will trigger a step in your plan. For example, retirement will trigger many of the financial planning elements of your plan as you shift from living on a salary and employer-provided benefits to living on your savings and paying for health insurance. Finally, there are those life events that force you to rethink your plan – like a divorce or the unexpected death of a spouse or child. Significant events like this may lead you to start over with many elements of your plan.
Setting Your Own Goals
For many of us, setting goals can be one of the most difficult steps in the process. However, we’ve found that answering some basic questions is the best way to kick off this part of the process. Some of these questions include:
How do I want to grow my wealth?
How do I protect my wealth?
How do I want to share my wealth?
These are only some basic questions to get you started. There are probably a hundred questions that follow as you answer these. For example, when deciding how you want to share your wealth, you will be forced to think about who you want to share it with, how much you want to share, how do you want to share it, ect. Asking yourself these basic questions, and all that follow, is a great exercise that will put you on the path to setting your personal financial goals and objectives.
And, as we said earlier, the most important thing is just to get started.
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