The 8 Things You Need to Do to Preserve Your Wealth
Making money is only half the battle -- keeping it is the other half. Yet if you read financial publications, far more than 50 percent of the articles are about ways to make money. Saving money doesn’t make for great headlines, but it’s vital to your long-term success. With that in mind, I want to discuss a few important ways that can help preserve your wealth.
(Full disclosure: I’m not an attorney, and this isn’t meant as professional legal advice. Such advice should come from a practicing attorney. I’m sharing tips that have worked for me and what I’ve learned over the years. Your mileage may vary.)
Create an estate plan and establish a trust
Find a reputable attorney who specializes in estate planning. There are many reasons to establish a family trust, some of which are asset protection, a plan and guide to continue your legacy after your death, to provide for your family, tax benefits, supporting your favorite cause, avoiding probate court (which is a lengthy process for your family to go through to get your assets), and many more. This is a must.
Set up an SPE (Single Purpose Entity) for each investment
Are you protected against liability? In our litigious society, it’s quite easy for somebody to maliciously file a lawsuit against you. How you hold ownership in each of your assets is crucial; you don’t want them all to be under your trust. I set up my businesses and properties as separate entities from my trust. I also have all the properties and businesses I own in their own separate SPE (single purpose entity). This means that the members of that LLC are in my trust, so it gives me another layer of protection. You should work with your estate planner and CPA to determine what suits you the best.
Diversification helps you spread your money around over more and less risky ventures. So you’ll want to have a percentage of your assets in the stock market, which should be diversified into several different products, such as fixed income, emerging markets, tech stocks, bonds, etc. You’ll also want a percentage of your assets in cash so you have the liquidity to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves. And you should have a percentage of your assets invested in real estate. Here, too, you can diversify in the different classes of real estate, such as industrial, office, retail strip malls, and apartments buildings.
Find a good CPA and listen to them
A good tax adviser will stay on top of the latest changes in tax laws and find legal ways to minimize your tax bill to fit your specific situation. Just make sure whomever you’re working with is credible and has a good reputation. Bad tax advice or trying to hide money from the government in offshore accounts isn’t advisable.
Seek good legal advice
Good legal advice is essential in preserving your wealth. Face it, when you make it to the top, you can become a target, so you need to protect your assets against predators. Lawyers should also review all business contracts, even those among family and friends with whom you’re doing business. And if there’s a dispute, ask the lawyer for some advice before saying, or doing, something you may regret.
Stick to what has been working for you -- don’t go chasing the next hot investment
The problem with the latest money-making trends is that they don’t have a track record -- there’s no success to look back on. Plus, the newest trends tend to draw too many people all looking to cash in on the same opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with dabbling in something new, but look for something that’s not so oversaturated that it’s impossible for everyone to profit.
When it comes to significant funding, you shouldn’t venture too far out of your wheelhouse whether you’re investing or expanding your business -- unless you have a lot of money and the risk tolerance to make some risky investments. Many businesses have tried to expand outside of their fields, but few have succeeded.
This is probably one of the most important tips of all. Many businesspeople are under-insured, or not insured at all for certain catastrophes such as hurricanes, high winds, hail, flooding, etc. Make sure you have an experienced, reputable insurance broker who can tailor policies that best suit you and your investments.
Invest in real estate
Real estate has always been the basis of enormous wealth. If you want to have a financially free life, get your real estate license, educate yourself, and become a real estate agent/investor -- even if you’re not going to do sales or transactions, but just to understand what it means to invest in real estate.
No matter how you make money, real estate is the best way to preserve it because, for one thing, it is inflation proof, if you invest for the long haul. There are also several tax advantages with real estate, and your CPA will help you take full advantage of them.
What I also like about real estate is that your investment doesn’t have to sit dormant. While a stock or mutual fund will simply move up or down, unless you have a small dividend coming due regularly, your stock market investment can only show you a profit when you sell it. Until then, your profits are a paper gain and not yet a realized gain. Real estate, however, can make money for you while you own it by leasing it and collecting rent.
Preserving your money is all about keeping it safe. This can sometimes mean minimizing your tax bills, taking precautions against those who want a piece of your money through litigation, maintaining your principle, and even profiting along the way, if possible. The goal of money preservation is to have something on which to retire and also to be able to pass something on to your children and even your grandchildren.