“I want them to write their own stories, and I want my money to help. I also do not want their future inheritance to ruin them.”
Money enables us to achieve our best selves when we align it with the people, values and goals that are meaningful. We will help write down what means the most to you. We also offer a video recording where you can transfer the message directly to the folks you love.
Planning the transfer of your wealth provides you many benefits:
Many of us struggle with wealth transfer.
Source: Dec 12, 2010 BLS Working Paper. Inheritance and Distribution of Wealth or Whatever Happened to the Great Inheritance Boom?
Here are some key questions to ask as you consider how to transfer your wealth.
Many people struggle with the desire to keep their wealth private and also prepare their children and grandchildren to receive the money. On this website, you will find many common questions to start a conversation. We offer experienced guides to help you prepare something unique and meaningful for your family. Scroll down to learn more or contact us for a free discovery conversation.
You may have conflicting desires. You want to keep the money in the family but you also want your children to work for it. You may want them to struggle so that they appreciate the money. But you may also want them never to feel desperate, or to struggle too much.
Or, you might want to make a meaningful gift. That gift may be completely different for one child who could “really use the money” or a grandchild in college than it is for another relative who is already financially successful.
You may want to set up a family business, or a family charity, and help the younger generations invest, spend and give away their money in responsible ways. We can help facilitate these conversations, share with you best practices and experiences we have had helping other families in similar situations.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin teaching younger generations financial stewardship:
What is your first memory of money?
What was money like when you grew up? Abundant? Scarce?
What feelings, thoughts and concerns do you have as you think about money?
How have these experiences helped shape your relationship with money?
What has been healthy? Helpful?
Conversely, what has been hurtful? Limiting?
What does a healthy relationship with money look like for you?
As you begin this self-reflection, consider what experiences you would like your beneficiaries to have on their own. Consider how your money could motivate the behaviors that you want to see them create. And, consider how you could help them create a healthy relationship with money.
In our experience working with the transfer of wealth across generations, we have found that many families appreciate the story of the money as much as they appreciate the money itself. We will help you shape your money story. Your values and experiences may help younger generations achieve a healthy relationship with money. Then they may be able to pass this knowledge on to their children.
For example, a common story we hear from our inheritor-clients is the one about “dad’s company.” Dad owned this stock and he believed in it. He would never want me to sell it. Well, that might be true. However, we have found that it is usually not the case. The real story underneath that stock could be something completely different. Here are some examples:
Dad never sold it because of a huge tax liability
Dad worked for the company and felt an emotional attachment to it. However, dad also was aware that all the people he worked with had long ago left and he didn’t know a soul who was still there.
Dad’s attachment was emotional, not financial.
Dad inherited the stock himself and was afraid to sell it because of “his dad’s story.”
The story dad wanted to say was different than the one you heard. He hoped you would learn to ride out the market’s ups and downs, or to buy a good company at a good price and hold it, or some other bit of wisdom that never quite got communicated.
Often, the story about “dad’s stock” was never actually told, let alone written down. And succeeding generations hold onto the stock almost like a tombstone—as a way to remember the deceased. It’s a shame, in countless ways, that the story is lost and the stock is held instead.
By telling your story, and hopefully writing it down or recording it, you give your beneficiaries the best chance of emulating the financial values and behaviors that you most want to see in them. You increase the odds that your wealth won’t go from “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”
We recommend a conversation with the children and grandchildren about the meaning of the money. You may or may not disclose the entirety of the size of their future inheritance. Some patriarchs and matriarchs feel this may ruin their kids and grandkids. The important discussion to have is what money means to you, and what you hope that it means for them.
To ensure a financial legacy, you want to prepare your inheritors for the windfall. Some people do this through legal structures, including trusts and family partnerships. These methods can be legally strong and may even provide tax advantages.
Still, they will not prevent fighting between the kids and grandkids. They certainly do not assure that the financial legacy translates into a healthy relationship with money. And this, of course, is much more powerful than any legal structure could be.
If you could only have one result or the other, which of these two would you prefer?
A legal structure that protected your financial assets from spendthrift inheritors, their potential spouses, thorny law suits, and also minimized taxes? Or….
Inheritors with healthy money relationships who were able to leverage the financial assets and build professional achievements and personal relationships in alignment with their values and their goals?
For many of us, we’d rather teach a person how to fish than to just give them a fish. For many of us, the soft-side of ensuring a financial legacy is more important, and also more elusive, than the legal structuring side.
See further: Windfall or Inheritance Planning
Here are some questions to ask as you work towards ensuring a financial legacy:
Who will inherit?
What do you love about them?
What do you want them to cultivate?
What do you want them to remember about you and your money story?
What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?
What are some of your best financial decisions?
Now that you have wisdom, if you could do anything with this amount of inheritance, when you were their age, what would you do?
How do you want to be remembered?
Through our advanced financial planning process, we help facilitate conversations between generations. Many people struggle with the discussion about how to help but not spoil the people who they love. Some of the issues we can help families negotiate include:
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin teaching younger generations financial stewardship…
Every family is unique, but a good family meeting shares these features…
We have found that many families appreciate the story of the money as much as they appreciate the money itself.
The important discussion to have is what money means to you, and what you hope that it means to them…
We work with multiple generations, and provide advice tailored for the next generation and their unique situations.
Many of our clients list their children’s and grandchildren’s education near the top of their financial goals.
Our children’s weddings can be one of the greatest joys of parenting, and they can also be expensive!
Investing in real estate provides you and your loved ones many potential benefits.
As Helen approached her 90s, she knew her money would outlast her life on earth. Her oldest grandchildren were having children. Her youngest grandchildren were approaching college age. Helen wanted to provide them a college education, and she didn’t mind saving taxes either. But she wanted to do something fair to help all the different generations, and also give a little more to those who needed a little more. We:
Discussed fairness, and what it means to Helen, and helped her feel confident in her decisionSet up education accounts and trustsFunded them in a manner that helped Helen save on taxesKept things simple and elegantManaged the assets prudently
Helen recently passed away. She is remembered by her family for her elegance, prudence and generosity. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are all a little better off, financially and otherwise, because of her good decisions.
Uncle James passed away a few years after becoming our client. Because James never had children, he left the assets in trust for his three nieces. While the children grew up, we managed the investments and their father kept their inheritance a secret. When they were college-bound, James’ nieces received a pleasant surprise—college was free, thanks to Uncle James! We:
Set up and help James fund the trusts, making it easy for JamesManaged the investments prudently with Uncle James’ goals in mind, making it easy for the trusteeManaged and reduced tax costs
The accounts continued to grow, even after paying for college. James’ oldest niece was able to pay for a wedding and make a down payment on her first home. Uncle James’ generosity will be forever remembered by this family.
To learn more about wealth transfer, click one of these links:
An initial conversation with one of our experts is always free of charge.
An initial conversation is always complimentary. We are often told that our discovery process is the best conversation about money a person has ever had.
We offer a broad array of events that broaden our knowledge and experiences.
Our financial planners guide our clients through the infinite maze of investments, taxes, budgeting, saving, estate planning, college planning, all types of insurance questions, and other planning issues.