UHNW global wealth is expected to reach $46.2 trillion US by 2020.
As many of these UHNW individuals reach their golden years there will be family conversations taking place that focus on the next generation and who will inherit what. Or will there be?
Rarely do we hear about or read articles that focus on wealth transfer conversations through the lens of the children. More often it’s the parent’s perspective; they make decisions for their children believing that they are setting them up for success. However, in many cases, the reading of the will is the first the kids hear of the parent’s plans.
Conversely, families that talk openly about money and have built a safe environment around the dinner table to discuss wealth, will have created a family dynamic within which succession planning is just one of many conversations.
Regardless the size of the family wealth, talking about dying, wills and inheritance within families is an emotional subject. Some family members cope well, others not so much. We all respond differently when under pressure, especially when emotions and close personal relationships are part of the scenario.
Families that have not made these topics part of normal family life will have a greater problem when estate planning becomes imminent. There will have been no discussion about preserving the inheritance. No consideration for the individual financial personalities of the inheritors. Families familiar with transferring generational wealth will have focused on training the next generation, listened to their whats and needs, and prepared each recipient based on their individual financial personality.
In the 2011 US Trust Research, their findings show that 84% of wealthy parents believed their children would benefit from meetings with financial advisors, but 59% had never even introduced their children to the advisors managing their assets. More than half had not fully disclosed their wealth to their children because they had not thought to do so.
By not communicating with their children:
- 60% of transitions failed due to a breakdown in communication and trust in the family unit
- 25% of failures in family wealth transfer were caused by inadequately prepared heirs
- 30% of family businesses survived to the 2nd generation and just 4% survived to the 3rd generation. Source: Independent Williams and Preisser Research
When discussing money and inheritance have not been part of normal family life, and heads of families believe they should be the main decision makers. The beneficiaries are left with no input. Many parents become overprotective of the family wealth, mainly because they read such statistics as the 70% failure rate when transferring family wealth from one generation to another, and the resulting loss of control of assets through mismanagement and poor investments.
The transition of wealth is very complex and in some cases, can reveal ugly behavior. Family members are all different, so are their attitudes about money. No longer are the kids isolated from what is happening in the world; they understand far more than parents often give them credit for. Healthy conversations about money and estate management ensure children won’t feel entitled to wealth, or become lazy and count only on inheritance.
When families speak freely about estate planning they can head off difficult situations, one being that the children don’t want the inheritance. Instead, they may:
- build a successful financial life for themselves and don’t need the family money.
- not want the family home as it would cost them a fortune to modernize it.
- not be interested in the family business as they are too busy running their own.
- be teaching values to their own children, requiring them to build wealth through their own hard work and diligent saving.
As lives become more mobile, some young people don’t want to be tied down to possessions that don’t fit in with a more disposable, digitized, transient lifestyle.
A good starting point is to uncover and understand each family member’s financial personality. DNA Behavior International offers a significant suite of tools to facilitate this discovery. Based on the outcomes, conversations are significantly more focused on the proper approach to address all involved about the transfer of wealth. These insights set the course for the formulation of the DNA Family Continuity Planning Vision. A process within which all opinions are valued in the family succession planning process and promote family harmony.
Beneficiaries have the right to know in advance what their financial future is likely to look like, as not everyone will be happy to receive an inheritance or be able to manage the responsibilities that come with it. Family dynamics, values, the amount of wealth to be distributed, and the maturity level and financial personality of heirs can vary dramatically from family to family. Better to know this up front so that plans can be made accordingly.
Rich dinner table conversations build sustainable relationships across generations, and it all begins with understanding one other’s financial personality.