By Phil Rarick & Jacqueline Bowden Gold, Weston Estate Planning Attorneys
In 1992 estate planning attorneys Robert Esperti and Renno Peterson wrote the best selling book, The Living Trust Revolution that captured the major shift in estate planning arising from the $6.8 trillion worth of wealth transfer beginning to take place in the United States. That was 1992. With the baby boom generation now retiring it is estimated that nearly 45 million U.S. households will hand down about $68.4 trillion over the course of the next quarter-decade, according to research firm Cerulli Associates. Note: the estimate of this massive wealth transfer is now ten times the size from 1992!
The living trust revolution correctly foresaw the shift in estate planning from wills, as the cornerstone of estate plans, to living revocable trusts. This revolution has helped many families avoid the cost of probate and keep legal control within the family for managing the wealth transfer. I am convinced it has helped prevent many family disputes and outright family wars that break out when the family patriarch or matriarch dies without a well drafted trust. A well drafted trust lays out clear instructions about the family matriarch’s wishes and intentions. It is when the matriarch leaves “in a vacuum” instructions that she creates an environment for family warfare.