How to Transfer Family Assets Through Successful Family Meetings

 Research has show that 70%* of wealth transfers fail from one generation to the next.  Family meetings are one vehicle that can be used to help all members of the family gain a greater understanding of family assets and values.  But despite the usefulness, family meetings are seldom held.  Parents may be reluctant to share knowledge of family resources because they are concerned about stifling individual initiative and because their children may have different economic situations and temperaments. There is also the divorce issue, which leaves some parents reluctant to have in-law children know of the wealth situation. Second and third generation children are often scattered through the country and beyond which make meetings difficult.  However, the consequences of not helping the next generation understand wealth management may cause family friction, jealousy, business failures and frivolous use of resources.

There are many ways to begin family meetings.  Designating specific times at holidays or vacations when the family is together is one possibility.  Technology is another.  The use of a family web site, blogs, and social media for the family can be an innovative mechanism to celebrate successes and discuss more serious issues.

Meetings do not have to start out will full blown disclosure. 

Some techniques you can use to assess family values & engage in learning experiences:

  • If the family is charitably inclined, have younger members choose a charity of choice, find out about its programs, fund raising activities, financials and success.  Designate a sum of money to go to one or more charities after the research project; reevaluate the following year.
  • Game playing.  What would you do with your life if you won the 5 million dollar lottery; what would you do if you knew you only had ten more years to live?
  • Pick  investment vehicles such as real estate, stocks and bonds to research
  • Discuss alternatives for educational funding
  • If you have a family business, discuss the process for getting family members involved. Discuss what educational needs are critical to success of them in the business.

Eventually, a meeting with the family advisors, financial planner, attorney and CPA should take place.  This will help the family know the advisors and gain greater understanding of the net worth of family, the tax situation, estate planning situation and an opportunity to discuss short and long range goals.

Successful family meetings are intended to engage family members, not be a set of rules handed from one generation to the next.  Healthy communication among family members builds trust; trust builds understanding and is more likely to achieve acceptance and enthusiasm in achieving individual and family goals.

Coming up in the third part of this blog series, a step-by-step resource for anyone hoping to keep the legacy they leave behind from evaporating.

*Sources:  1983 MIT Study reported in the Economists;  Roy Williams and Vic Preisser from the Williams Group  research study.

The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material.  The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.  Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.  The services and  opinions of Roy Williams and Vic Preisser are independent of Raymond James. You should discuss any legal matters with the appropriate professional.