There exist a handful of names in American culture that have come to be associated with incredible opulence and near-inextinguishable wealth: Rockefeller, du Pont, Hearst. Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famed railroad and shipping tycoon, stands among them–elevating his family name to one of the richest in 19th Century America. At his death in 1877, a vast treasure of $100 million–$2,273,000,000 translated for inflation–exceeded even that held by the US Treasury at the time.
Yet this massive fortune has long since crumbled. Over forty years have passed since the last penny left the purse, squandered by three successive generations of heirs who brought the family name to ruin. Of course, the heirs should not bear all the blame. Perhaps some inherited their shares of the spoils before they were ready. Still others may have simply grown up with the silver spoon in their mouths and no comprehension of the decades of hard work that went into building it.
Through thoughtful estate planning, you can make sure that your heirs are fully prepared for their inheritance–even promoting the values necessary to see them protect and grow that inheritance. In a recent article, Forbes magazine provided these helpful tips:
- Share your vision. Like any good parent, you already put in the effort to instill your values in your children. But have you placed enough focus on the importance setting goals and striving to achieve them? Share with them your own hopes and dreams, and take the time to genuinely listen to their input. Starting an open, multi-generational dialogue can bring your family together and strengthen the values you impart.
- Tell your story. It does not always suffice to speak of your values; instead, communicate the stories behind them. Family memories, experiences, and life lessons can be passed down and serve as the glue that keeps these values strong and sturdy in their minds. It is key to ensure your family story lives on.
- Record your story. Whether wealthy or poor, the greatest value lies not in money or possessions, but those intangibles you hold sacred and make your family unique–your insights, values, and experiences. The wonders of the 21st Century make it all the easier to retain your story for posterity. My office facilitates this through our family legacy videos, assisting you to capture that story to be passed on to your loved ones for generations to come.
- Gather together. The importance of setting aside special dates for family gatherings is intuitive: bring everyone together breathes new life into intra-family bonds and allows an exchange of ideas and a nurturing of common goals.
Call our office at 612-206-3701 or contact us via our contact form to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about this in a family estate planning consultation, where we can identify the best ways for you to ensure your legacy of love and financial -security for your family.
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