None of what you have to do to create a financial legacy for your family will be easy.
It requires tough talks, like asking someone how much they plan to leave when they dies. Or telling loved ones what you will bequeath them—awkward. And let’s not forget the ever-so challenging budget or setting up a savings and asset organization plan.
It’s understandable. In many ways our community’s relationship with finances has been shaped by oppression and trauma, or exceptionalism, which leaves little room for conversations beyond the here and now. Luckily, the paradigm is shifting. The last few years have been filled with many forms of activism, and financial education has been at the forefront.
From the importance of supporting Black businesses to the logistics of funding Black banks, discussions about how Black dollars are spent are more prominent at kitchen tables and on social media. But there is more work to be done. Countless studies have shown how the lack of family financial planning, or setting up inheritances, has negatively impacted Black families.
While research has shown that median inheritance is $69,000, you don’t have to leave your loved ones that much to make an impact. MadameNoire asked Ashley M. Fox, founder and chief executive officer of Empify, a company with a mission to educate and empower people to achieve life and financial success, to break down what you should know.
Start the Conversation. “A conversation with your loved ones should be at the top of the list,” says Fox. Opt for a stress-free time when family members can safely meet, virtually or in-person and emphasize that the conversation is about educating each other about financial stability and legacy. Be prepared to talk about end of life wishes too. Starting the conversation early will help to ensure everyone is on the same page and when it’s time to put things on paper, consult an attorney.
Define Assets. While any and everything can be bequeathed, items such as furniture, trinkets, clothes, fur coats and China stored in cabinets are more likely to hold sentimental value than monetary value. Jewelry and businesses can be inherited and may have fiscal value.
Get or Upgrade Your Life Insurance. Life insurance is also a great option because, as Fox states, “It gets tricky when you pass down wealth. You can’t just give money away in America. You get taxed when you make money, spend money and leave money. Life insurance is tax free and you can designate who gets what.”
Research Getting into the Stock Market. Consider purchasing stocks, bonds, annuities and mutual funds to grow your investment and inheritance. For instance, some bonds double in face value and accrue interest over a specified period of time. And, they are safe; the face value remains the same regardless of what happens in the financial markets. One way to begin is by researching companies you know well and trust.“If you’re starting small, begin investing in the stock market no matter what your age. Put yourself in a position to invest in a company that has the ability to grow in value,” says Fox. “The majority of billion-dollar businesses have stocks under $300.” There is one caveat: do your research. The stock prices for big name companies like Microsoft, Visa, Target, Disney and Apple Inc. are all less than the price of a smartphone.
Any amount of money can have a positive impact on a family, but Fox recommends setting a goal of passing down 10 times your salary. A little strategy now can help change the direction of generations to come.