“To those whom much is given, much is expected.” ~ John F. Kennedy
Question: I’m watching friends and family having less than positive experiences when passing family wealth to future generations. Can you explain why this occurs and what might be done to increase the odds of successfully passing along legacies across generations?
Answer: Unfortunately, you’re right, according to research by Forbes Magazine, seventy (70) percent of intergeneration wealth transfers fail. When children and grandchildren aren’t able to connect with the meaning, substance and purpose of achievements and accomplishments previous generations, it is more difficult to form an appreciation for what financial wealth represents. My favorite analogy for these situations is that of a hollow chocolate Easter Bunny; it may look fabulous on the outside, but there’s no substance. Understanding the essence a family’s ideals and beliefs may help with the continuation of those convictions.
Family values matter. The loss or dilution of these traits adds to the challenge of transferring and sustaining tangible wealth over the years. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons for this reality and identify ways to increase the odds of being included in the thirty (30) percent who are successful with these transitions.
A strong family foundation begins with clear, open dialogue discussing values as well as financial assets. Lifestyle may be a reflection of wealth and under appreciated by some family members. Talking about what’s important and why that’s the case, while taking into consideration the communication styles of each family member may encourage discussions beyond just financial wealth. This is the opportunity to explain the responsibilities of being good stewards of wealth to your children and grandchildren.
Now that the family is talking, why not discuss why preserving wealth matters to the family and the world around you. Talk about what visions you share. There will likely be common ground as you discuss what you’re working towards as a legacy. Identifying the qualities you’d like to pass along may help define and design values. Respecting differences and giving everyone a chance to be heard and understood goes a long way towards creating a positive purpose for family wealth.
Ask what shared experiences each family member felt had the most impact on them over the years. The feedback may be surprising enlightening and help clarify the focus from “stuff” to meaningfulness. Identify any philanthropic causes individuals care about. This can lead to how you view money’s purpose. In our family, money is love in motion. We discuss the importance of persistence, self-esteem, and delayed gratification. Having a purpose in life while facing and conquering obstacles teaches resilience and self-respect. Being thrifty, modest, honest, patient, generous, kind and humble are good traits to promote and can help future generations long after we’re gone.
When transparency is lacking, trust can dissolve. This doesn’t necessarily mean disclosing your net worth to every family member, but it does mean including them around the intended purpose of the wealth you’ll pass along. Be cautious though, the promise of sudden wealth may inspire children to rest on their laurels. Encourage them to make a financial life of their own. Be as open as you feel appropriate while encouraging questions and answers during the dialogue. At the right time, share your wishes for the future in more detail. Consider introducing your family to your professional advisors who can help answer questions.
Depending on your personal values and beliefs, when family members focus on what money can do for them, the result is often overspending and misuse of funds. Gratitude is the one emotion that can truly support successful wealth transfer. Gratitude is a verb and an action when you participate as a group in philanthropic and charitable events. Involvement can strengthen an attitude of gratitude. Bringing everyone together while making joint decisions can create family bonds. The power of your example today will set the stage for the next generation to preserve wealth for the good of the family and the world around them. A strong family bond gives you a better chance of success. Stay focused and plan accordingly.
The data and information contained herein was obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. Mention of specific companies’ names, information or any opinions expressed do not constitute a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security referred to herein. Investors should discuss the risks inherent in bonds with their Financial Advisor. Risks include, but are not limited to, changes in interest rates, liquidity, credit quality, volatility, and duration. Past performance is no assurance of future results.
Information contained in this report was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed. All investments contain risk, including loss of principal. Views are as of May 15, 2019 and subject to change based on market conditions and other factors. “Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.”
This article is provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. Call or email Darcie at 239-389-1041 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or suggestions for future columns. Visit her website: www.raymondjames.com/Darcie.