Following on from last week’s blog which featured ‘top tips’ numbers 4 and 5 for clients looking to pass money onto children, we complete this series this week with our last but by no means least tips, numbers 6 and 7, titled, ‘Bring the kids to the meeting’ and ‘It’s not about the money’.
Joline Godfrey, author of Raising Financially Fit Kids, extols the virtue of involving children at some meetings with advisers (financial, legal, accounting and perhaps others) who can deal well with children and who are not condescending.
Godfrey sees these meetings as forming an educational service and perhaps a way to allow children to express concerns or pose questions which they may not feel able to do with parents.
An important part of such a meeting is the liaison prior to the meeting where parents brief the adviser as to what information they want shared and what not shared.
Certainly, my own experience bears out the value of this. If nothing else, on numerous occasions, my role in family meetings has been almost as chairperson, the meeting providing an opportunity for the family to discuss important issues which they would otherwise have overlooked. Time and again families have later said to me that such a meeting was immensely useful.
A Chicago-based psychoanalyst quoted in Fortune magazine remarked that often very wealthy parents pay too little attention to their children’s upbringing:
“Rather than give rich parents money advice, I would give them child-rearing advice”.
His comment is along the same lines as the idea that people don’t have money problems, money has people problems!
In their book The Millionaire Next Door – the surprising secrets of America’s wealthy, authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko talk about emphasising your children’s achievements, no matter how small, and not their or the parents’ symbols of success. And they encourage parents to tell children that there are a lot of things more valuable than money.
This perhaps leads back to an earlier quote from one of our clients:
“My instinct would be to just pass the money on and hope that in doing so you also pass on your values – how to use it, the life to lead, the standards to have”.
So where does that leave us? Perhaps after everything we have considered the message is that parents shouldn’t get too concerned about how they pass on their wealth after all. Certainly it makes sense to review the options available, but ultimately, passing on their values is arguably more important.
Richard is a Chartered financial planner, Certified financial planner, Fellow of the Personal Finance Society, Fellow of the Institute of Financial Planning, and Affiliate of the Society of Trust and Estate Planning. He works with clients in Scotland and in London and has particular expertise in helping individuals and families pass wealth down the generations. View Richard’s profile here.
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