When it comes to estate planning, clients want more than pages full of numbers and complicated documents to sign. They may not know how to express it but often their real concern is about the impact of leaving wealth to succeeding generations. Will it do harm or good? Will it motivate or paralyze? These dilemmas are often the reason that planning stalls.
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However, financial advisors, like other professionals, often find it easy to function inside their comfort zones and fail to help their clients work through these issues. Though discussed at many seminars, “values based planning” isn’t easy and many advisors don’t feel equipped to tackle the issues involved with helping families create meaningful methods and dialogue about developing strong values and family legacies.
A simple first step is to give your clients a gift; buy them a book on the subject. The Good The Bad & The Difference-How to Talk With Children About Values by Michael Sabbeth offers great guidance for discussing values and ethics. Michael, a Denver, Colorado attorney has been teaching these principles to elementary school children for more than twenty years. The book offers a very clear and simple methodology for making children think about complex moral issues and values in a very deep and meaningful way. It is rich with stories that tell us that our children are capable of deep thinking and reasoning if only we ask the right questions and offer proper guidance.
With a little help from their advisors, clients can engage in wonderfully rich dialogue with their children and grandchildren and gain confidence that they are leaving their financial wealth to a family that understands the responsibilities that attach to that wealth. Advisors who help facilitate these revelations stand to long lasting relationships with all of the generations of the family.