By Tony Davis, Esq.,
Special to The AFRO
We are certainly living in exciting times. Obtaining wealth for ourselves and our families is no longer considered an unobtainable dream. Many people are advancing in careers, becoming entrepreneurs, and creating multiple streams of income. This is resulting in incredible financial wealth regardless of age or formal education. Now the question becomes, how do I keep the wealth once I achieve it?
The answer is proper estate planning, which I prefer to call Family Life and Legacy Planning. Putting a proper plan in place is often delayed because of many misconceptions like thinking you must be old or rich to start planning. Often, people avoid estate planning altogether because they think it focuses exclusively on death.
Regardless of these misconceptions, the reality is that everyone already has an estate plan because every state in the country has a default plan in place for its residents. Now ask yourself:
- Who do you want to decide what will happen to your assets when you die? You or the state in which you live?
- Who do you want to determine what happens to your assets or your children if you become incapacitated? You or the state in which you live?
Let’s look at a plan gone wrong. When singer Aretha Franklin passed, it was initially thought that she did not have a will. Then, it was thought that she had up to four wills describing who would inherit her wealth. This lack of structured planning resulted in her family members ultimately fighting over her assets. To make matters worse, despite being one who wanted to keep her private affairs private, people like me (and you) were able to know about the family infighting, secrets and IRS problems. Singers Prince and Bob Marley made the same mistake. And no, you do not have to be a celebrity for your affairs to be made public. All state plans and processes are public information, where anyone can review your assets.
Conversely, here’s an example of what happens when a plan goes well. When NBA legend Kobe Bryant died, though there were leaks of him not updating his plan, all his documents are kept private and his assets are not tied up in court. As a result, Kobe’s plan was executed according to his wishes and the process has been seamless for his family.
To have private results like Mr. Bryant for your own family, you’ll have to take matters into your own hands by working with a caring professional and properly structuring your own plan.
A complete estate plan will contain four essential elements:
- Asset protection
- Tax protection
- Entity structuring (where applicable)
- Legacy planning for your loved ones
At Davis Family Legal Group, we help families establish a proper estate plan and ensure that it is executed exactly as intended. We will partner with you, and together we’ll determine the right options for you and your loved ones based on your assets and family circumstance.
If you’d like to schedule an initial consultation, visit www.davisfamilylegalgroup.com or contact us at (410) 654-3309. Together, let’s come up with a plan that will benefit you, your family, and future generations.
Tony Davis is the founding partner of Davis Family Legal Group LLP, supporting families to be happy and whole through the vehicles of family services and estate planning.
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