Will My Children Still Be Hugging Each Other 6 Months After I Die?

By Jeff Rogers
children

In a previous Forbes article, we outlined some strategies for Effective Wealth Transfer (preparing your wealth for your heirs), including some great strategies that could potentially save your family hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in unnecessary Estate & Capital Gains Taxes. In this article, we want to discuss Intentional Wisdom Transfer, which is preparing your heirs for your wealth (so they are well prepared to receive it and to steward it wisely).

In our paradigm, Wisdom Transfer encompasses a number of things, such as the creation and communication of Family Vision, Mission, and Core Values (sometimes called Guiding Principles) as well as things like enhancing Communication & Trust within the family. Passing on the Family Story and History can be an important element of understanding the roots and heritage of the family. One specific element of Wisdom Transfer is what we call Heir Preparation. This is creating an intentional plan for equipping and preparing your children (and grandchildren) to wisely manage the wealth they will receive. This can include their attitude about money and how to handle it (spending, saving, investing, and giving to bless others) as well as having a sense of purpose, strong work ethic, and avoiding the “entitlement mentality” that can be caused by “Affluenza”.

Most families have a “Wealth Transfer” plan, but most do not have an intentional, proactive, and written plan for “Wisdom Transfer”. Most have invested time and money in preparing their “wealth for their heirs” but they haven’t spent much time or money in preparing their “heirs for their wealth.”  But they should!

In addition to Heir Preparation, one of the most important aspects is family dynamics. Numerous studies have shown that the leading causes for the failure of effective Wealth Transfer to occur from Generation 1 to Gen 2 and Gen 3 (Children & Grandchildren) are not mistakes in legal, tax, or other planning mistakes. Those make up less than 15% of the failures. The leading causes are “Unprepared Heirs” (25%) and “Lack of Communication and Trust within the Family” (60%). What are you doing to Prepare your Heirs to be wise recipients of the wealth you plan to pass on to them?  Even more importantly, what are you doing to build a culture of Trust and effective Communication within the generations of your family? This is where Family Meetings can help create a sense of purpose and identity within the family. By creating Family Vision & Mission Statements you codify your Core Values as a family for everyone to reference.

You see, your family will have a Family Meeting…the question is, will you be there to provide your leadership and wisdom (or will your first Family Meeting be held at the reading of your Will)? We believe that your leadership and wisdom are critical to helping build a Thriving Family Legacy. Although we don’t think you should actually lead the Family Meeting (it should be led by an outside, experienced Family Meeting facilitator) we do believe you should be present. As you seek to lead your family well, take our assessment to see how you are doing in the planning of your personal and family legacy. Download our free sample of a Family Mission and Vision template to help you establish your vision and mission with some values, measures, and strategies that go into a successful vision.

One mark of a Thriving Family Legacy is that your Children (and Grandchildren) will still be hugging each other 6 months after you die! For more information and some practical strategies, read my book, Create a Thriving Family Legacy—How to Share your Wisdom & Wealth with your Children and Grandchildren, published by ForbesBooks.

We assist clients in developing an intentional, proactive plan for mentoring and disciplining their children and grandchildren and in creating family unity and purpose in a multi-generational context. If that sounds like something that would be a blessing to your family, please contact us to schedule a conversation.