When we think of vast family wealth, most of us know the name Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad and shipping scion of one of the richest families in America in the 19th century. When he died in 1877, he left a fortune of $100 million — more than the U.S. Treasury held at the time.
That massive fortune — which would be more than $200 billion in today’s dollars — has been gone for over 40 years. It did not survive past three generations, primarily due to mismanagement of successive generations of heirs.
A recent Forbes article looked at ways to prepare heirs for an inheritance, with an emphasis on protecting and growing that inheritance. Here are some tips:
Share your vision. Conduct a family roundtable where the heads of the family come together with everyone and share their hopes and dreams for the family, as well as how they plan to reach their goals for the future. The idea is to start an open multi-generational dialogue.
Tell your story. To help younger generations understand the importance of protecting and growing inherited wealth, it helps if they first understand the values and visions of their predecessors. Sharing family memories, experiences and life lessons from older generations is a key component to ensuring the family story continues on.
Record your story. Your lasting legacy should be much more than just money; it should also be about those valuable intangibles that make your family unique, told through your insights, values and experience. We do this through our legacy planning process, helping you capture and pass on your own story and your aspirations for your loved ones through a special recording we produce for each of our clients.
Gather together. Annual family retreats or gatherings around holidays also help solidify family values and nurture common goals. Consider holding an annual retreat where multiple generations can gather to make plans for the future and renew family harmony.
Contact a Personal Family Lawyer® to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best ways for you to ensure your legacy of love and financial security for your family.