Have you given much thought to what will happen after you’re gone? Does the prospect of the long-term future that extends after your life seem overwhelming? While these questions can be intimidating—and let’s be honest, downright daunting—perhaps nothing compares to the subject that is your family’s legacy planning.
As you might expect, the process begins with effective financial planning, and institutions who are staffed with experts who can turn potentially turbulent financial waters into a smooth sailing breeze. “The number one thing that you must do in order to create a realistic financial plan is to determine how much it costs to maintain your lifestyle,” says Molly Kerr, senior vice president and market executive for BOK Financial Private Wealth. “And if you’re not on track to achieving your goals, it’s important to be open to discussing strategies to help you get there.”
As Kerr and the bank’s other specialists acknowledge, properly establishing a family legacy requires foresight, a commitment to unique forms of stewardship, and the ability to think beyond current generations. In fact, BOK Financial Private Wealth’s financial and legacy planning services are supported by four key pillars:
Planning with Intentionality
When BOK Financial Private Wealth specialists first engage clients in discussions about their long-term plans, they start by addressing the question: What does it mean to you to live richly? If your answer focuses on quality time spent with friends and family, the opportunity to pursue passion projects, the ability to make a difference in other people’s lives and the community, or to seek out and engage in meaningful experiences, you’re not alone. In fact, those are the types of responses that BOK Financial Private Wealth specialists most commonly hear from their clients.
When it comes to planning with intentionality, Kimberly Bridges, senior vice president and director of financial planning at BOK Financial likens it to planning a road trip. “Too often, people simply get in the car and drive, figuratively speaking,” she says. “They might have a full tank of gas but they haven’t thought about where they are going or if they will make it there.”
“Individuals need to consider how much they will need to save—and for how long—to reach their goals,” she continues. “This is where having a trusted advisor helps. We can do the calculations. And because the market doesn’t give us a consistent return each and every year, we need to revisit the plan periodically to make sure we’re on track.”
Planning for Retirement
The prospect of retirement planning often brings to mind financial contributions to 401k’s, IRAs, and other investment accounts, but financial planners at BOK Financial Private Wealth encourage their clients to first consider how they would like to live during their retirement. “The retirement we experience will largely be a result of the preparation we did or didn’t make for many years along the way,” Bridges acknowledges. “Whether or not we can afford to live the lifestyle we desire, whether we have friends and family to spend our time with, whether we are engaged in purposeful activities, and—to some extent—whether we are healthy enough to enjoy it all will be a result of the foundation we laid for many years leading up to retirement.”
Accumulating Wealth and the Insurance to Protect It
Everyone is focused on their ability to make money, but BOK Financial Private Wealth is focused on making sure its clients prioritize the protection of that income (and their savings). “There are many risks along the road of life that could threaten the wealth we have worked hard to build, but many risks are insurable,” says Bridges. That being said, she acknowledges that a common mistake that many clients make is to invest in the wrong types of insurance. “It is important to work with knowledgeable advisors who can help you match your needs with the right type of insurance. Income replacement, for example, can often be met with term insurance, but estate liquidity must be met with a permanent insurance product.”
Ultimately, Bridges recommends that her clients entrust multiple specialists who can navigate the entire insurance landscape. “You will be better served by a team of advisors—a money manager to manage your portfolio assets and an insurance agent to handle your insurance needs,” she says. “And be sure that all of your advisors are required to adhere to a fiduciary standard of care, which means that they must put your needs above their own.”
Leaving a Legacy
The transfer of family wealth from generation to generation is about much more than just monetary assets. It’s about a family’s true legacy—its role and prominence within a community, its philanthropic and charitable efforts, as well as its commitment and desire to support worthwhile organizations and institutions. You’re never too young to begin planning your estate, but it’s important that the plan aligns with what you want your money to mean, where you want it to go, and who you want it to support. Open communication and education is vital for both younger family members so they can better understand the importance of preserving a family’s wealth, and for adult children so they don’t mismanage the wealth-transfer process. When done correctly, these actions can unite older and younger generations, ensuring that the family’s legacy is both secure and long-lasting.
Yes, the long-term future that extends beyond your life can be a difficult topic to discuss, one that can produce awkward or uncomfortable moments, especially in tight-knit, supportive and loving families. But as financial experts—and the bank’s four key pillars of estate planning—prove, establishing a course of action to secure the well-being of a family’s members (and the family’s overall legacy) doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, those who trust BOK Financial Private Wealth with those services will tell you that it’s not.