Money: Umani Succession Planning


Money: Manuella Verhaeghe de Naeyer talks about the tricky subject of succession with Umani.

In 2000, Thomas de Wouters d’Oplinter was inspired by independent family office models and decided to launch a family wealth counselling activity that was completely independent of any financial institution and did not deal with the financial management of the assets of its clients: you cannot be both judge and jury.

Two years later, the business took off, the team grew and the skills came together to deliver a global service (strategic, operational and family advice, financial, legal and tax engineering). Umani is therefore one of the first independent multi- family offices in Belgium.

The family office company Umani organizes and offers, over the long term, a set of mainly legal, financial and tax services in order to preserve the economic interests of families in a trans-generational vision. An independent family office, Umani’s vocation is to exercise an independent advisory activity in the organization and structuring of family wealth. Umani’s general objective is to allow their customers to follow, develop and transmit their heritage optimally, in accordance with the objectives they have set, and to ensure their sustainability by better involvement of future generations.

The company’s mission as a family office consists of an integrated support of family patrimony by bringing its attention to the legal, civil, regulatory, financial and fiscal aspects, both of securities and of real estate, in a client’s country of residence and taking into account the specificities related to family holdings or works of art. Understanding all of the assets, identifying family challenges, developing the most suitable solutions in terms of asset structuring, providing consolidation, information and control systems, these are some of Umani’s missions. Commitment, independence, transparency, absence of conflicts of interest, ethics, these are the fundamental values that Umani defends.

Succession planning is one of Umani’s specializations, so we asked Manuella Verhaeghe de Naeyer, legal and wealth advisor at Umani, to answer a few questions on this topic.

The organization of succession may still seem taboo in our society. How do you approach it with your customers? Indeed, this remains a delicate subject: parents want to pass on their family heritage to their children while guaranteeing financial security for their old age. Many questions may arise on both sides, parents may feel their financial future is in jeopardy, children find it difficult to discuss such subjects with them. Our role through family governance is to find the solution best suited to their situation, with confidence and serenity. We have effective tools for this, which encourage the establishment of wealth planning that secures the whole family, but communication and trans-generational coordination is a prerequisite.

What are the golden rules for good implementation of succession? Family governance, structuring and support. As a priority, we must first of all perfectly draw up the family genealogical tree as well as identify the globality of the acquired and existing heritage and identify the family objectives, both individual and collective. Different laws exist in our country, whether one is located in Wallonia, Flanders or Brussels. We are, with the help of our internal experts or with the specialized firms with which we collaborate, very attentive to the various updates of the laws in force in this area to support families in these perspectives. This is one of the most important aspects of our family office work. Our work is done in concert, not only with the client, but also with his or her advisers.

What do you think is the value of estate planning? When the estate planning implemented is respectful of the wishes and expectations expressed by parents and by the children, it allows them to see the future with serenity. Family patrimony is transferred in a thoughtful manner, taking into account all the parameters and in particular the protection of the parents.

Nowadays, between 50 and 60 years of age, there exists a wish to transmit all or part of the family heritage thanks to current security tools. What is certain is that you must avoid waiting until the last minute. Transmitting assets in an emergency is not easy, it can even be impossible with all the consequences that follow: very high inheritance taxes and real estate that must be sold urgently to pay for these taxes.