As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s meaningful to reflect on the origin of the holiday –Native Americans and pilgrims sharing their bounty of food with each other. As you gather with your loved ones this year, perhaps you can think of ways to share not only your dinner, but also your financial bounty.
In terms of bounty-sharing, here are some suggestions you may find helpful, no matter your age or that of your children:
• Make appropriate gifts. If you have young children, you may want to get them started with a savings account to help them develop positive financial habits.
You could even make it a Thanksgiving tradition to measure how their accounts have grown from year to year. But you can go even further by starting to fund an education savings vehicle such as a 529 plan. This account can provide valuable tax benefits and gives you total control of the money until your children are ready for college or trade school.
Other education-funding options also are available, such as a custodial account, commonly known as an UGMA or UTMA. If you have grown children, you could still contribute to a 529 plan for your grandchildren.
• Develop – and communicate – your estate plans. While you may want to be as generous as possible to your loved ones during your lifetime, you may desire to leave something behind as part of your legacy. And that means you will need to develop a comprehensive estate plan.
Such a plan will allow you to express your wishes about where you want your assets to go, who will take care of your children if something happens to you, how you want to be treated should you become incapacitated, and other important issues.
Your estate plan will need to include the appropriate documents and arrangements– last will and testament, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and so on. To create such a plan, you may need to work with a team of professionals, including your financial, tax and legal advisors. And it’s essential that you communicate the existence and details of your estate plan to your loved ones.
By doing so, you can help them know what to expect and what’s expected of them to help avoid unpleasant surprises and familial squabbles when it’s time to settle your estate.
• Solicit suggestions for charitable giving. Sharing some of what you have with charitable or community organizations will also help fulfill the spirit of Thanksgiving. And you can make it a family affair by asking your loved ones which groups they would like to support.
Not only will you be helping a worthy cause, but you’ll also be teaching your children about the value of money – in this case, the ability to use money you’ve saved to help make a positive contribution to society.
By sharing your bounty with your loved ones and your community on
Thanksgiving, you’ll help create a more memorable holiday for everyone. So, be generous, be creative – and be prepared for how much satisfaction you can get from your actions.