As I’ve educated people to lift the taboo on talking about money, and taught them safe and respectful ways to share thoughts and feelings about money with children, parents, and close friends, I have become convinced that for estate planning to succeed across generations, the emotional inheritance must be identified and communicated to beneficiaries. Over the last few years, I’ve led family retreats between generations of wealthy clients to facilitate deeper communication, decision-making, and creation of an ethical legacy. (For a fuller view of family retreats, see “Passing It On” in The Client Connection: How Advisors Can Build Bridges That Last, my most recent book with Sherry Christie.)
Rod Zeeb and Perry Cochell, co-founders of the Heritage Institute in Portland, Ore., have trained many others to use a family-oriented process that begins with what they call Guided Discovery. They ask family leaders a series of questions, including:
Who are the people you most admire? Why?
Who influenced you the most? How?