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Exit Strategy

David Gartland

IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, you aren’t eager to spend down your investments. What fun is that? Aren’t you curious to see how big your portfolio could grow? Of course, you are.

After my wife and I are gone, my son will have dibs on the money we’ve amassed. We’ve set up a special needs trust to provide him with income when we’re no longer around. My son has no siblings, so we needed the trust to make sure he’s taken care of.

But until then, I view our portfolio as a beautiful garden that I need to nurture. I believe many investors are like me, and don’t really enjoy spending. Instead, they cultivate their wealth with an eye to passing it on to their heirs or their favorite causes.

But what about those investors who don’t have anybody lined up to take over their money after they’re gone? We’ve had wealthy celebrities, like Prince and Aretha Franklin, who died without clear instructions for how their estate should be handled.

I don’t understand such neglect. You’ve been caring for your portfolio with the goal of seeing how big it can get before you “kick the bucket.” That’s great. But you also have a responsibility to make sure your efforts don’t go to waste. You should have a plan in place for this thing you’ve enjoyed owning for so long.

Some investors say, “Oh, I don’t care what happens after I’m gone.” That’s the wrong attitude. You owe it to your wealth to see that it’s put to good use after your death. Just find someone or some cause that you feel would benefit from all your hard work.

Maybe your beneficiaries will fritter away your money. Maybe they’ll show respect for what you’ve done and keep your wealth growing. Maybe they’ll put it to good use and help many others with this gift you’ve given.

But no matter how your beneficiaries behave, the important thing is that you do your part—and have a plan for what happens after you’re gone. Once you’ve done that, you can go back to tending to your investment garden and making sure you don’t mess it up for the next owner.

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