Passing on Wealth & Money Values to the Next Generation

Contributed by: Matthew E. Chope, CFP® Matt Chope

I work with a lot of moms and dads who want their kids to know what they think is important. Since I’m their financial planner, these values are often tied to money. In an ideal situation, parents want to give their children and grandchildren the freedom to choose for themselves when wealth is passed on to them. But oftentimes, I’ve seen an inheritance turn into guilt, bring out greed, or even sprout into remorse…when all the parents wanted was for their kids to be okay.

Discussing Inheritance + Values

I recently spoke at The Private Wealth Midwest Forum in Chicago to other professional advisors regarding multigenerational family wealth issues. I shared how to help families manage wealth across the generations, covering the successes and challenges I’ve witnessed with families. A major part of the equation is communicating across the generations. The conversation is different when you’re talking to a tween than a college grad. By taking maturity level into consideration, you can tailor the conversation to focus on what brings meaning to money for them. I generally try to have parents or grandparents lead this discussion and share their values, how their wealth was conceived, and their ongoing intentions. Involving children in the conversation and encouraging them to share fosters deeper understanding.

Are My Kids too Young for this Conversation?

I had a meeting with an 11 year old and his father recently – he’s my youngest new client! We started chatting about what money means and providing an early education about stocks vs. bonds, working for the family business, and his wages vs. the company’s profits.  I was amazed at how much the 11 year old could understand. He was quicker with all of the math in his head than I was! Parents often assume their children are too young for serious conversations about wealth and inheritance. I feel the time is right as soon as the parents are ready and I always encourage my clients not to wait until it’s too late!

Knowing How to Give and How to Receive

Once your family has the conversation and develops an understanding of what is sacred, there are other ways to link money with meaning. I hear from clients that, “Our tax guy said gifting money is a smart thing to do.” But simply dropping checks into a bank account can be like a meteor strike if your family hasn’t invested time and effort in the money and in a meaningful conversation. I encourage parents and grandparents to accompany monetary gifts with a note about the value and meaning of the gift. Your goal is likely to help your children on their journey, but not provide for entropy … so tell them that. The act of transferring wealth may not change, but the values associated with the inheritance can provide valuable perspective for both the givers and the receivers. Is it time for you to begin the family conversation? I’m here to help.

Matthew E. Chope, CFP ® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Matt has been quoted in various investment professional newspapers and magazines. He is active in the community and his profession and helps local corporations and nonprofits in the areas of strategic planning and money and business management decisions. In 2012 and 2013, Matt was named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine.

Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Matt Chope and not necessarily those of Raymond James.