Being Wealthy in America
I have inserted in this article a number of “Legal Flags” in bold type to highlight certain considerations.
UBS, a global financial services company, released the results of a 2013 survey they conducted on the question of wealth. UBS received 4,450 responses on a variety of survey questions related to the topic of determining wealth. Their survey respondents were age 25 and older and had at least $250,000 of investable assets. Some of their thoughts may surprise you.
A majority of those surveyed defined wealth as “having no financial constraints on what they do.” However, when asked to quantify a dollar amount as “being wealthy,” those respondents used the dollar amount of $5 million. Only 31% of millionaires (those having investable assets of at least $1 million) considered themselves wealthy. (Legal flag: Having a Will or a Trust is not “just for wealthy” individuals. Moreover, whether you consider yourself wealthy or not, the titling of your assets needs to be properly coordinated with your Will or Trust.) On the other hand, a significant percentage (62%) of respondents with investable assets between $1 million and $5 million were confident that they would be able to achieve their financial objectives for the future-this represents good, optimistic attitudes.
An astonishing 4 out of 5 survey participants provide financial support for adult children or parents and one in five respondents share a home with a family member. According to the survey, this financial support is being provided to family members for a variety of situations, including: (1) paying for daily living expenses (Legal Flag: Are these payments intended as gifts or as loans? Would a Trust be an appropriate method to continue this support into the future upon your death or disability?); (2) funding educational costs (Legal Flag: Unlimited gifts to fund education expenses can be made for federal gift tax purposes if education costs are paid directly to the institution rather than directly to the family member); (3) providing a home or lending money to purchase a home (Legal Flag: Is the loan properly documented for tax and estate distribution purposes?); (4) assisting in the purchase of ‘big ticket’ items (Legal Flag: How will this change, if at all, the distribution of your estate assets upon death?); (5) taking care of grandchildren (Legal Flag: Are guardian appointments in place for minor grandchildren if the parents are not living?)
Although providing the types of support in the above examples can often strain their own financial resources, a majority of the respondents said that they enjoy being able to help their family members (whether grandchildren, adult children or aging parents.)
The UBS survey results (and the Legal Flags noted) illustrate the importance of having a comprehensive financial and estate plan in place. A good financial and estate plan helps achieve your own financial goals and needs, along with the financial needs of multi-generational family members. A solid financial and estate plan will address, among other things, retirement planning, medical and health care planning, long term care planning, tax planning and estate and trust planning.
Be aware that the Legal Flags identified above raise only a fraction of the issues that should be considered when completing your comprehensive financial and estate plan.
So how would you respond to the following questions:
1) Do you consider yourself wealthy?
2) What do you think it takes to be considered wealthy in America today?
3) Are you confident that you have a good financial plan for the future?
I would be interested in your responses. Please let me know if I can answer any questions you may have on any of these issues.
The entire UBS report entitled “What is Wealthy?” can be found on their website: http://www.ubs.com, UBS Investor Watch, 3Q 2013.
This post was previously published on my website as: How do Americans define “Wealthy?”
Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future . . . in a Changing World.
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