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An Introduction To The Family Office

05/17/2017  |  By: Jacqueline Weiss, Manager, Tax

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Have you considered Family Office services?

You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to enjoy the benefits of a family office. While traditionally, only families with a net worth of $100 million or more would establish a family office to control and maintain the family fortune, the practice has expanded to encompass a much broader clientele.

Firms today offer what we call Multi-family Office services. They are helping many families with multiple services, ranging from bill pay only to a full concierge-type service. You only pay for as little or as much attention as your family requires. Firms serve multiple families, so the cost of maintaining a staff of professionals is also spread among multiple families, making these services accessible to a larger base. Whether you are dealing with multi-generational wealth or if you are in the process of generating the wealth right now, these services can be beneficial to you.

At the entry level, a family office can help with bill pay. All of your monthly bills can be directed to the firm. Mail is processed and bills are paid with little involvement from the client. You are always aware of what is being paid, but you aren’t dealing with the paper, filing or organization of the information on a day to day basis. The firm maintains copies of all of the bills, reconciles the bank accounts, and delivers reports to you. This service is popular with entrepreneurs and executives, whose valuable time is more productively spent increasing wealth than with routine financial maintenance. It is also helpful for individuals who own multiple homes or investment properties and would like to have expenses segregated for management and planning. We are in a time where many early retirees are taking care of their parents. A bill pay service might be invaluable for freeing up time and providing peace of mind.

A step up from the bill pay offering is a package including personal financial statements. The firm creates a balance sheet from the assets you own and updates it regularly. Investment activity is booked. Detail of credit card activity and tax related expenses are tracked. An income statement is generated monthly to help you monitor the performance of your investments and help you track your spending, potentially maximizing your tax savings throughout the year. In addition, since CPA firms are some of the leading providers of family office services, your family office is already working closely with your tax preparers. They will already have access to your current financial reports, simplifying your year-end tax preparation.

Several additional value-added services are available. A family office team can make sure your household employees are paid and the payroll tax returns are filed on time. They can put a budget in place so you can anticipate upcoming planned expenses and make sure cash is available when it is needed. They can also coordinate direct transfers from your investment accounts as cash is needed.

One popular offering is the annual review of insurance policies. You are carrying insurance on your autos, your home, your valuable articles, as well as an umbrella policy and other special coverages. The family office can verify that your policies are up to date, that your coverage is adequate and that you are not open to liability. They are also maintaining a schedule and watching for the renewals to make sure no payments ever slip through the cracks so coverage doesn’t lapse. They offer peace of mind so you can focus your energy elsewhere.

The possibilities expand from there. How liberating would it be to have a go-to person for personal financial assistance? Do you need mortgage or personal loan information in order to purchase new assets? Call your account manager. Do you need a copy of a check? How about a history of how much you have paid to a certain vendor during the year? Maybe you’ve received a tax notice from the IRS. Contact your account manager. In the time it takes to make a phone call or type an email, your requests will be answered by an account manager who already knows your financial history and can respond quickly.

While these services are obviously beneficial for busy executives and entrepreneurs, there are many affluent families who could also benefit.

Your family office can help you establish wealth transfer policies. They can assist with the development and implementation of distribution schedules to heirs, as well as annual gifting. Trended reports from year to year will show who has and will receive distributions, so heirs can plan for tax issues, philanthropic and investment opportunities.

Second or third generation heirs may need help managing the wealth they have inherited. They weren’t integral in developing the wealth, but they want to maintain those hard earned dollars and grow them for future generations. Being firmly planted within the financial services market, a family office can help with any number of issues. They are a hub with spokes reaching into the areas of tax, family law and estate planning. They can make recommendations for trusted providers in investment management. They can help educate families on how to maintain wealth with tax and estate planning or the possibility of establishing trusts. They can even help create a family foundation which provides an ongoing legacy of charitable giving to issues that are important to the family.

Another generational issue is caring for aging parents. A family office can offer assistance with day to day matters for children who are overseeing finances for their parents, making sure medical and household bills are paid. This can be a comfort for children who may not live near their parents, or for siblings who split the responsibility of caring for their parents. There is an account manager outside the family, who knows the family, and is reporting to each of the parties involved in the same manner. It offers transparency to help maintain familial harmony.

Property owners with multiple homes or investment properties could also benefit from the organization and financial management of a family office. Financial record keeping can be maintained in one accounting software and reports can be generated by property. These reports can identify which properties are performing well and which need additional attention.

In summary, a family office may be a service you’ve needed, but either didn’t know existed, or didn’t think was a practical option for you. They offer specialized and personalized professional services to help your family preserve your wealth and prepare the next generation, ensuring your legacy continues for generations to come. LBMC offers a full suite of family office services. To discuss if our services may be right for you, please contact Jacqueline Weiss by email at jweiss@lbmc.com or by phone at 615-309-2459.

Jacqueline has been an accounting professional for 20 years. She gained extensive experience in individual, corporate, and non-profit accounting during her 13 years in Business Management on Nashville’s Music Row. Jacqueline works effectively with companies of all sizes, from start-up organizations to multi-national corporations.

Posted in: Financial Solutions
Tagged with: wealth management