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Wealth Relationships: A new way to think about your family and your affairs

By November 15, 2012No Comments

For hundreds of years, affluent families have been guided by their advisors to steward their material assets. Attorneys, CPAs, investment and insurance advisors and financial planners all come to the table to help you identify the best course of action. The stewarding of your financial or material assets is actually only one-third of the process. The two additional elements are beginning to surface in more conference rooms and family rooms than ever before.

The second and third elements of planning include 2. the communication of your decisions to those who’ll be impacted by them, and 3. The quality of communication that exists within the family system in general. When all three areas have been tended to, families achieve holistically wealthy relationships.

Why is open communication with heirs important?

So many times we see families concerned that if their heirs knew of their substantial impending inheritance, it would rob them of drive and work ethic and implant a sense of entitlement that derails their adult life.

In reality, there are many programs and models available for mentoring heirs to be effective wealth owners. By beginning the process while you’re here to participate, you can observe and influence the training process. You can help ensure that the inheritance doesn’t derail the heirs and that the financial resources are used for great causes, not squandered. You can leave this world knowing that your heirs understood who you were, how you amassed the wealth and what you hope will happen with it in the future. That’s why communicating the nature of your decisions is so crucial to establishing wealthy relationships.

Quality of communication: not just what but how…

The third element of wealthy relationships is the quality of communication that exists or can be aspired to within your family system. Just like in marriage, the better the foundation for communication, the greater the likelihood that relationships can survive difficult times. This is a crucial and wonderful area that can be addressed during your lifetime regardless of the age of your heirs. Even relationships with and between adult children can be repaired and strengthened. Again there are entire processes and advisory disciplines based on the improvement of family communication.

Picture your heirs thirty years from now sitting around a family dinner table. What do you aspire for in the future of those sibling relationships and developing family units? Consider your ability to influence what’s happening at that family dinner simply by doing the heavy lifting to increase the quality of communication in your family today – to equip them with communication skills just as you’ve equipped them with morals, values and integrity. This is the third element of wealthy relationships.

If these aspects of planning appeal to you, ask your advisors how to bring the process and conversations to the proverbial planning table. And with the holidays approaching, there’s no better time for families to rally around their long term goals and commitments to each other.