How to transfer wealth to the next generation

There are many avenues to build wealth and various ways to pass it onto your children

There are many avenues to build generational wealth and there are also various ways to transfer it to your children. Getty
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The age-old question of “does money buy happiness” is still up for debate.

We all have different needs and there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but a recent six-month study by journal PNAS found that people who received cash transfers of $10,000 generally reported feeling happier than those who did not receive this payment.

In reality, for most of us, money is a limited resource but professional athletes such as LeBron James, billionaires such as Warren Buffett, and technology savants such as Elon Musk are among the few exceptions to whom this rule does not apply.

The wealth that such people have accumulated is so enormous that it goes beyond providing for their families and extends to future generations.

As parents, we all want the best for our children and the ability to transfer wealth to them is one way of achieving this.

This is because wealth grants one the freedom to live a life that is worry-free — from not being able to make rent, not having to work an unfulfilling job or being caught in the crossfire of unfortunate life circumstances; because the harsh truth is that we will not be on this planet forever and, at any given moment, anything can happen.

If something grave is to happen to me, I want to ensure that my son is positioned for success in the same way that I aim for his children, my sister’s family, and my wife’s family to be set up for such success.

While my parents had no choice but to work blue-collar jobs, where they had to worry about mortgage payments and other living expenses that didn’t allow them to save an abundance of money, I was privileged to have a different set of life circumstances that now allows me to look to build generational wealth for the betterment of my lineage.

With that said, there are many avenues to build generational wealth and there are also various ways to transfer it to your children.

Cash lump sums

This popular form of wealth transfer offers you the enjoyment of seeing your children, or even grandchildren being able to use your money.

Monthly, bi-annual, or yearly lump sums are some viable options if you are looking to make a cash gift. It is also a great way to provide younger members of the family with a solid financial cushion, but without giving them too much that they stop understanding the value of hard work.

Giving your child $10,000 a month for the rest of their life is better than giving them $10 million in one go as this will also help them to understand and appreciate the value of money.

By giving your loved ones lump sums of cash, you can help them cover important expenses such as tuition fees or even assist them in buying a home so that they can continue the cycle of passing on generational wealth.

Transferring properties and family offices

On the topic of property, there are many methods to transfer your property.

If your children can afford to buy your home, then selling it is a great way to downsize and use the proceeds of the sale to finance needs such as retirement.

You could also leave your property behind for your heirs to inherit via a revocable living trust.

This will let you name your children as successor trustees so that you can decide how you want the property to be handled after your death.

If you have several children and no one wants the property, the trust can sell it after you pass away and distribute the proceeds.

If one child wants the property and the other does not, equitable financial arrangements can be made to compensate the heir(s) who will not inherit the home.

Monthly, bi-annual, or yearly lump sums are some viable options if you are looking to gift cash
Bas Kooijman, chief executive, DHF Capital

Similarly, a family office can also be used to transfer wealth across generations, but it is a more comprehensive arrangement, with both immediate and long-term objectives.

A family office may be a trust, it may include one or more trusts, or it may not.

Simply put, it is a privately-held company or group of companies that are created solely to manage the wealth of a family or a group of families; the intent is to ensure that wealth is nurtured so that it can be transferred across generations.

Using insurance

Purchasing an insurance policy can protect your children by determining approximately how much money they will need for the rest of their life, and then adding a reasonable buffer.

People use life insurance for different needs but if you are using it to transfer wealth, you should view this money as if it does not even exist — until it is needed.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while insurance is excellent for the wealthy, it may not be the most ideal source of wealth transfer for the highly affluent — because when you are financially secure, that is your life insurance.

For example, if a high-net-worth individual applied for life insurance for their spouse, an expected payout could be approximately upwards of $100,000; in this situation, this amount may only cover their expenses for a few years and thus, they would be better off diversifying their portfolio to reap the benefits of the funds that are produced at a later date.

Consult wealth advisers

Accumulating, saving and delegating wealth can be an intimidating process.

However, professional and experienced wealth advisers and lawyers can ease this burden while diversifying your portfolio.

This will let you enjoy a certain lifestyle while also preparing for your golden years.

If you reach out to the right wealth adviser, a trust can be set up so that generational wealth, which typically only spans two to three generations, instead works for you for up to 200 years.

Bas Kooijman is the chief executive of DHF Capital, a securitisation company for financial services

Updated: February 28, 2023, 4:00 AM