The Largest Wealth Transfer in History Has Already Started

Ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI) will transfer an estimated $3.9 trillion to the next generation over the next 10 years, enough to purchase the 10 largest companies in the world, as shown by a Wealth-X and NFP study. Considering the fact the the average UHNWI is almost 60 years old and 64% of this demographic is self-made, many will be dealing with complex estate-planning matters for the first time in the not-so-distant future. Here’s what’s at stake.

The report found that 64% of the UHNWI population (defined as those with $30 million or more in assets), created their own wealth and did not inherit it, making it likely that any given individual within this segment will be considering the transfer of significant wealth for the first time in their lives.

Without proper planning, this group could lose up to half their wealth through inheritance taxes. These assets could be subject to as much as 40 percent of their value in inheritance taxes, with state taxes ranging between zero and 16 percent.

The question is whether UHNWI and their heirs will be prepared. To keep any fortune intact as the baton is passed, effective estate planning has to be a top priority—and early on—to accommodate various types of asset holdings.

For example, private businesses make up the largest category of wealth from HNWI in this study, at 36% of total value. This means decisions need to be made about whether these businesses will be transferred or sold, and succession plans need to be implemented—a process that doesn’t happen overnight.

Other assets such as public holdings (24 percent), cash (34 percent) and real estate (6 percent) require additional tactics for preservation. Philanthropic transfers make up yet another category of planning.

Successful wealth transfer is an effort that doesn’t rest on the shoulders of the affluent individual alone. Educating the future generation and discussing options with knowledgeable advisors are essential to building a strong financial legacy.

And while the UHNWI from this report have enough at stake to warrant immediate attention, so does any family with a business, real estate holdings, household property, liquid savings, or stock investments. Whether your assets make up part of the $3.9 trillion to be transferred over the next decade or not, the only way to make sure more of your money goes to the people and causes you’d prefer to have it (over the IRS) is to plan for it with your advisors.

Source: September 15, 2016