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Family Meetings Can Solve a Lot of Problems

When money is at stake, people act differently.

One of the best ways to keep harmony in the family is to share the plans you have put in place with the people affected by those plans. Every family has different dynamics. Each person has a behavioral style. There may be lots of roles for the many people who are involved. That means there needs to be lots of communication. Effective communication. Having those key people listening to the plan and asking questions and getting answers to them during the same conversation goes a long way to keeping things clear. Family meetings can eliminate jealousy and suspicion and misinformation. Family meetings allow you a way to spell out for your family what you want to occur.  You can set forth your values and the legacy that you wish to leave for the family.


A recent Forbes article claims that "70% of intergenerational wealth transfers fail," discussing a new Williams Group study examining the long-term effects of wealth transfers in 3,250 families. "Failure," according to the study, means situations where the heirs dissipated wealth, often with the family assets becoming a source of friction and dispute.

The researchers were quick to note that poor professional advice was not the cause; to the contrary, the researchers noted that "[estate planning attorneys, financial advisers, and tax experts] usually did well for their clients."

According to the study, poor family transition planning usually caused these failures. In other words, "no one in the unsuccessful transferring families was preparing their heirs for the multiple kinds of responsibilities they would face when having to take over the reins."  The common theme among the successful 30% was the identification and communication of long-term lessons and values that pass along with the assets:  “A key component was to identify a family mission as well as a strategy to attain it.  The heirs understood that the family’s identified mission was about the family wealth.  With that known they were given the opportunity to practice their roles for the future, in philanthropy, the family business and other ventures at a more minor level than they would have upon the passing of the patriarch or matriarch who headed the family at the time.”

Most importantly, the report suggests that at the center of all successful wealth transfers is open and honest communication between family members.

The full Forbes article is available online at http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynrosenblatt/2011/12/09/wealth-transfers-how-to-reverse-the-70-failure-rate

I would be pleased to meet with you and your family.  I would encourage you to consider using our team approach to helping family members work together in a better way.