Westmont Magazine Let Your Values Be Your Guide
By Iva Hillegas SchatzDirector of Planned Giving
An estimated $10 trillion dollars will be transferred from one generation to the next during the next 45 years, according to estate planning forecasters. Even if the figure is off by a few million, this unprecedented transfer of moneys will probably affect your family in some way. Deciding how to transfer “wealth” is becoming a familiar topic in the media and at seminars around the country. Before you decide how to distribute assets to others, it is important to determine why through a process where you let your values be your guide.
On May 21, Westmont joined with Santa Barbara City College and the University of California, Santa Barbara, to present two seminars at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel dealing with this very important topic. In the morning session for donors, Scott Fithian, a nationally recognized speaker from Boston, asked this question: “How can you be sure the decisions you make will accomplish all that you want for yourself, your family and others?” Local estate planning professionals listened to a talk by Fithian in the afternoon that focused on ways in which advisers can help their clients create an estate plan consistent with their objectives and personal values.
According to Fithian, Principle #1 in the process of moving toward a “Values-Based Estate Plan” is understanding your own hierarchy of values. This requires a review of three levels of planning: financial independence; family legacy; and social capital legacy. These three levels create a pyramid with the first, and largest level, supporting the other two.
Once you have secured your financial independence and determined an appropriate family legacy, you are free to consider the impact you can make on society. At this third planning level, you can make decisions regarding Voluntary or Involuntary Social Capital. Will this portion of your estate be paid in taxes or distributed to your favorite causes as charitable gifts? With proper planning, it is possible to control whether your social capital will be made in the form of tax or gift. Your values and how you want to see your dollars used is a matter of choice.
You can make a difference. By developing your own personal family financial philosophy, you will discover a way to integrate your values with your money. One belief most people share is their right, if not their responsibility, to control the distribution of their assets upon their death. As people get older, their desire to know they have not lived in vain increases. The prospect of leaving a legacy takes on personal meaning. Through reflection, family discussions, and working with advisers, it is possible to find a way to use your social capital to make a difference in the world.
Will Westmont benefit from a portion of the $10 trillion to be transferred during the coming years? The answer is “yes,” if alums, parents, grandparents, and friends of the college include Westmont in their social capital legacy. It is planned gifts from estates that will preserve the college for future generations through a growing endowment fund.If you would like a copy of the 14-page handout from Scott Fithian’s presentation, “Family Wealth Transfer: Let Your Values Be Your Guide,” please contact me at College Advancement’s new toll-free number by dialing 1(800) 998-5652 and pressing 1.