When Bob and Diane came to see us for the first time they had all the makings of the ideal client. They had diligently saved for their retirements and had a great deal of options in what they might be able to accomplish in terms of their retirement goals. It was clear to us however, they they weren’t as confident as we were.
The importance of responsible giving
One of the benefits wealth gives us is an ability to be financially generous to friends and family members. For many of us, the primary reason why we build wealth and make sacrifices is to provide and share it with others.
In theory, sharing wealth and making monetary gifts is always easy. It can be if the giving is done responsibly. However, money has the potential to complicate relationships, even among the closest spouses and families. These complications can end up being disruptive or even destructive to the family dynamic.
When a person or a couple wants to share wealth, they should do so with clear intentions, a thoughtful plan, and an awareness of the effects it will have on others. We have helped many clients and families over the years share their accumulated wealth. Here are some of the lessons we have learned along the way.
ORGANIZING YOUR RETIREMENT INCOME
Many couples and individuals just don’t know what to do or where to start. They are intelligent, talented and skilled in their chosen fields—but as busy professionals and parents they really don’t have that much time to consider all of their options. Just having a sizeable nest egg or sufficient savings for retirement is not necessarily enough anymore. Substantial assets don’t necessarily equal a sense of well-being or confidence about your financial future.
One couple like this came to us a few years ago. They were in their late fifties and wanted to retire early. They wanted to spend more time together travelling to destinations they had always dreamed of visiting and getting to know their first grandchild. Both were executives at large corporations, and had a wide variety of benefits available to them. The benefits were only available to highly compensated executives but they were not maximizing what was offered due to the complexities associated. They wanted to plan for the present and the long term but didn’t know where to begin.
No, we are not talking about the hit movie from 1996 (written by local writer Christopher McQuarrie). We are talking about when we work with clients who come to us with the same set of 15-20 stocks, which internally we call “the usual suspects.” Typically these stocks were either inherited or they were purchased decades ago. Since they have been held for so long, selling any of the shares would result in a large tax bill.
These stocks are usually held because they are “good companies” or because there is a sentimental value attached to them. However, over the past few years, these stocks may have underperformed the overall market and now there is uncertainty on what to do going forward. They are also reluctant to sell them because they do not want to pay taxes. Inaction is what usually happens and this is not always the best outcome.