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Wills and living trusts are wonderful.
Tax-advantaged transfers of assets, too, are of great value.
But . . .
What are your real desires
If your children and grandchildren can't get along together . . . or if even "only" one of them becomes a drug addict, an alcoholic, a wife-abuser, or worse: wouldn't you trade all your wealth, if you could, to salvage the person?
John Holzmann, founder
It wasn't so many years ago, we were living well below the poverty line. Now, I'm told, our income places us somewhere in the very top echelons of income earners in the United States.
I mention that not to brag, but in order to explain why I created StrategicInheritance.com.
The responsibilities of a legacy.
Our family's success has granted us certain benefits, of course. But, far more than benefits, I have felt the weight of responsibility that wealth brings.
I have recognized the opportunities our family has to do good with our wealth. I have also been reminded--more often than I would like to remember--of how devastating wealth can be to a generation of recipients who receive it before they have been properly trained for its reception.
To help us direct our family, my wife and I have sought the best professional counsel we can find. Among other things, that has meant we have invested thousands of dollars on estate planning attorneys, CPAs, and other estate planning advisors. And we have invested multiple tens of thousands of dollars on specialists who are known as wealth counselors and legacy planners.
I have also invested hundreds of hours of my own time studying the literature, working on the details of our plans . . . and then trying to figure out what are the root issues from which every other family, wealthy or not, could benefit.
Among other things, I have learned how what is coming to be known as multi-generational legacy planning differs from estate planning, how appropriate plans and structures--including a formal family government!--can help a family not only weather the normal stresses, storms and strains of life, but flourish . . . for centuries.
I became so excited about what I learned, that I resigned from Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd., in order to share my estate planning knowledge with you . . . here, in a friendly, peer-to-peer environment.
Estate planning professionals have their place,
Don't get me wrong. Traditional estate planning professionals--attorneys, CPAs, insurance agents, financial advisors, and so forth--are absolutely vital once you know what you want to accomplish. They will help you put feet to your desires.
But very few such advisors are in any position to help you with the most important matters. They can't help you
Even if estate
planning professionals could help you in these areas,
Why? Because these are not generally their areas of expertise. And they know their clients aren't paying them the big bucks for these "other" things.
Instead, estate planners are trained to help you with . . .
Beyond that, as a number of estate planning attorneys have told me, they feel somewhat hamstrung by the rules of their bar association professional ethics committees. "Beware of exerting what may be perceived as undue influence upon your clients," they hear these keepers of professional conduct say. And so, strangely, they shy away from raising too many questions that could be construed as guiding or directing their clients. [Of course, the best estate planning attorneys recognize that their highest calling and best value involves helping clients sort through the issues involved in the life-altering choices they are making.]
Still, even with the best estate planning professionals,
I recommend you at least begin your process with help from your peers.
If you own a business, I expect you enjoy hearing stories from peers--successful business people--about how they ran their companies or how they transferred ownership when the time came to do so. You enjoy hearing the technical details. But, far more, if you had the chance, you'd find yourself even more drawn to know how successful families have dealt with ne'er-do-well sons-in-law. Or twice-divorced daughters who seem always "in need." Or grandchildren who, at 15, have already been arrested twice for drug use. Or other family members who . . .
It's not that you're a busybody or a gossip. Far from it. No. You want to hear these stories because you have family members just like them.
And you'd "give anything" to know how to handle the situations.
The problem is,
These aren't the kinds of things you can talk about
No. Nor are you likely to ask for prayer about these things in church.
They're simply too private. Too painful. Too embarrassing. . . .
You know what I'm talking about.
And yet you know it could be very useful to discuss these things with other people you could trust who have "been there and done that" . . . or are being there and doing that right now!
That's why I created StrategicInheritance.com.
I wanted to share with you what I have learned through life. And, I hoped, in return you would allow me (and others) to gain from you whatever insights you have learned about these matters.
StrategicInheritance.com is not only about estate planning. It is not only about passing on to our children, grandchildren, and future generations, whatever material wealth we may possess. It is about training them for receipt of these gifts. And it is about effective philanthropy. It is about sharing with future generations every form of wealth we own: social, spiritual, intellectual, relational. . . .
What questions do you have? What insights? What information? What sources of information would you recommend?
Reproducing what I've done before.
Back in 1996, I created the Sonlight Curriculum online presence, something which, right from the start, centered on mutual communication through an online forums community. And over the last dozen years, I have come to appreciate how valuable a hundred heads are compared to my "just one." And a thousand heads compared to a hundred.
I have seen the Sonlighters Club forums develop from barely a dozen people to over 5,000 active participants today--more than a million messages every year.
It is my desire to see a similar community develop
And so I've put together several Strategic Inheritance Legacy Planning/Estate Planning "Forums" where you can communicate with fellow pilgrims on the road you're traveling.
Many of the participants in the Sonlighters Club forums consider themselves closer to one another than they do to most of the people they know in real life. I wouldn't be surprised if we find a similar community develop here at StrategicInheritance.com.
Besides the forums, and, actually, before I created the forums, I have been blogging about our family's legacy planning experiences. I wanted to fill you in on some of the exercises we have done and some of the issues we've faced. (One problem we have faced: We are now working with our third professional legacy planner! You might find it interesting how and why the previous relationships soured.)
Over time, I intend to fill in the navigation bar to the right with links to resources and articles I think may be of help to you. As you--or I--come up with additional ideas about how Strategic Inheritance might be of service, I intend to add those as well.
Meanwhile, come on in!
I expect you'll find the water's fine.
1 Roy Williams and Vic Preisser, co-authors of Philanthropy: Heirs and Values. A family is said to be intact if they still own at least a substantial portion of the original financial inheritance and, more importantly, participants enjoy healthy relationships one with another.
A family is no longer intact if the financial assets are gone and/or relationships have been severed . . . or both.
Ninety percent of wealthy families will have lost their wealth before the third generation shuffles off this mortal coil. "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations." Even with the finest estate planning counselors money can buy--attorneys, CPAs, tax consultants and more. [Return to text.]
The creation of effective Estate Planning documents involves complex areas of law. Your attorney, CPA, or other estate planning professional must be made fully aware of your individual circumstances before he or she can give any advice upon which you can depend. The general information available on this site should never be construed as legal advice. For legal counsel, please seek the advice of a competent attorney. Strategic Inheritance also advises consultation with qualified financial advisors, CPAs, or other professionals as it may be appropriate.
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