The World Cup is off to an excellent start. As you watch this exhilarating world-wide contest this summer, bear in mind that professional soccer teams can teach us about more than just soccer.
Yes, lessons gleaned on the field can be applied to estate planning and, when executed with skill, can change people’s lives much like a victory in the final would change the life of Harry Kane! Let us consider what the world’s best soccer teams can teach us.
Can you picture what a soccer team would look like if it only had an offense or a defense? Other than being askew, this team would not have a great chance of winning.
Similarly, every player can’t be a defender. How well would Brazil do with a team just full of Thiago Silvas’? Not great. A winning team specializes. The French and Brazilians have forwards such as Mbappe and Neymar for scoring, defenders like Sidibe and Thiago Silva for denying penetration, and goalkeepers such as Lloris and Alisson for preventing the other team from scoring. You should specialize too—think about LLC’s for asset protection, a life estate deed for real estate investments, and a revocable trust for probate avoidance. In estate planning, there are specific tools and strategies you can implement – each filling a different role but having a common purpose (to legally protect what you’ve worked hard for).
Various players need to be able to work together and leverage each other’s skills. To be successful, you should build a strong team too. It’s not all about estate planning. You cannot forget about insurance, budgeting, and financial planning. You may have nothing to legally protect if you are not budgeting and investing. You also need to be prepared for the unexpected. With the proper insurance policies and estate documents in place, your overall plan has a higher probability of success regardless of the challenges you may face.
Flexible teams can adjust the way they play to match their opponents. Playing against a team with a strong defense requires a different strategy than against a team with an aggressive offense. Teams need the ability to adapt quickly to unexpected shifts in the game: a red card, an early goal, or an injury can force teams to make adjustments quickly. Estate planners face similar challenges. The last few years have seen several changes in the law:
As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which was signed into law on December 22, 2017, the federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions doubled to $11,200,000 per individual. Thus, a married couple will have combined exemptions of $22,400,000 in 2018.
The annual gift tax exclusion amount will increase to $15,000, and will also continue to be adjusted for inflation pursuant to the chained CPI.
These are just a couple of the changes that have occurred over the last few years and the legal landscape continues to evolve. An effective estate planner must be flexible in order to modify estate planning strategies based on current laws with the goal of keeping more money in your pocket.
Staying in Shape
A successful team needs great players that are physically fit. A few exceptional players can decide a game single-handedly. But going the distance is tough and even the most talented players could have an off day if they are not in tip top shape. When it comes to estate planning, once you have your estate plan in place, you cannot simply stick it in a drawer and forget about it. Things will happen that will affect your estate plan – you may get divorced or married, have children, lose a family member, move, or buy or sell a business. Additionally, federal and state laws are constantly changing. All of these things, will impact your estate plan, thus it is important to review your plan regularly to ensure that it still meets your estate planning goals.
The Big Picture
Even the most experienced teams risk tossing out their game plan when time is running out. And the coolest forward might miss a simple shot under pressure. The teams who can stick to their strategies for the entire game have a greater chance of success. The goal is to win so that your team can advance to the next round! Estate planning is similar. It is helpful to step back and consider the big picture of estate planning: To preserve, transfer and administer your family’s wealth so that it lasts for many generations.