I’ll be taking a break from my series on the specifics of the Heritage Planning process and in this column will explore how you can learn firsthand the benefits of Heritage Planning for you, those you love and those you serve.
During May, workshops and events will be held around the nation to introduce Heritage Planning to families, individuals, non-profit organizations and all professional advisors. The workshops will be led by certified Heritage Professionals from the nonprofit and business worlds. These events are designed to help professionals and the people and organizations whom they serve to understand where, how and why Heritage Planning can help them achieve what matters most to them today, and for generations to come.
Heritage Planning’s Origins
Two decades ago research began at The Heritage Institute (THI) in Portland, Ore. to address the fact that 90% of families fail to keep their unity and their assets together for multiple generations. That being the case, what do the 10% of families who succeed generation after generation do differently? How can we, as professionals, use that information to help our clients/donors become part of the successful 10%?
THI determined that the difference between families who fail and those who succeed is typically not a function of the quality of their financial or estate planning. It turns out that families who are able to sustain their family unity and assets across generations share many attributes in common, including how they intentionally teach and transmit those attributes to succeeding generations. THI identified those elements, and used them to create a planning process to supplement good financial and estate planning by filling in the ‘gaps’ that doom most families.
Heritage Planning Defined
Heritage Planning can best be understood in the context of its relationship to financial and estate planning.
- Financial Planning: Grows and protects your assets and can be as simple as the monthly household budget or as complex as sophisticated long-range planning designed in consultation with an entire team of professional advisors.
- Estate Planning: Passes the assets to your heirs and can entail anything from a simple will to dynasty trusts, offshore planning and multi-faceted philanthropic plans.
- Heritage Planning: Experts agree that the reason that 90% of inheritance plans fail is that the heirs are not prepared to receive their inheritances. Heritage Planning provides a mechanism by which the children are mentored, guided and trained in leadership, money management, communication and other important skills. It prepares heirs to receive both their financial as well as their emotional inheritances. Heritage Planning can be as simple as the creation of special family traditions that foster communication among family members, and as sophisticated as the establishment of multi-generational family governance structures.
The ‘Soft’ Side of Planning? Hardly
When the wealth management group Family Office Exchange did a perceived risk study, asking respondents, in essence, what they thought might ‘get them’ financially, the majority of respondents said that it would be poor planning and investments. Only 7% thought it would have anything to do with family dynamics. In contrast, when Williams and Preisser conducted a comprehensive survey of over 3,000 families who really had lost their wealth and asked ‘What actually got you?’ 60% said it was lack of communication and trust in the family, 25% said it was unprepared heirs, and only 5% said that poor planning and investments were the problem.