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unHeritage – 11 Pitfalls to Family Legacy and How to Avoid Them


“unHeritage is definitely the lighthouse for protecting your family and wealth for generations. This book is a must read for anyone interested in legacy planning.” Enzo Calamo

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Center for Family Conversations


The Center for Family Conversations (CFC) is a resource center that provides the integral tools and ideas in helping families establish a 100-year-plus Family Legacy Plan.

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THE TYCOON PLAYBOOK – How Business Empires Are Built


The Tycoon Playbook course was created for business families who are already running a successful business and wish to ramp up their growth while preserving wealth for future generations. Specifically, the Playbook teaches high performance business owners the two most highly rewarded skills in business, namely deal-making and how to acquire cash flow producing business assets.

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Estate Planning

  • 5 Estate Planning Strategies to Keep Your Money in the Family

    5 Estate Planning Strategies to Keep Your Money in the Family

    The inheritance you leave could still be eaten away by taxes and expenses. Here are five strategies to avoid that.

  • How the Superwealthy Plan to Make Sure Their Kids Stay Superwealthy

    How the Superwealthy Plan to Make Sure Their Kids Stay Superwealthy

    Passing on a fortune isn’t as easy as it seems.

  • The Idea of Family Wealth

    The Idea of Family Wealth   This topic is absolutely foreign to the middle class, and even many high income earners. I myself have never experienced it;, my education comes directly from speaking with wealthy individuals and observing some of the richest families in history. The Idea of Family Wealth.

  • Preparing Heirs by Bill High

    Preparing Heirs by Bill High

    Preparing Heirs by Bill High     What is it about our kids that prompt such great emotion – from elation to depression? Certainly, there is no greater joy than to see our children flourish and no greater agony than to see them wander from our values and our beliefs.   Irony: neglecting the “soft” side   The greatest irony in family estate planning: spending countless hours on the “hard” side of assets while giving lip service to the “soft” side of people development.    The tendency in estate planning is to prepare legal documents that transfer financial wealth without preparing our children for true legacy. What does preparing our children for true legacy mean?   Preparing children for true legacy   Life is often a blur in the child-raising years. In the same timeframe that we are raising kids, we are building our careers. And frankly, some of us tend to do a better job of building financial wealth than “family wealth.” Much of what our children learn is left to chance: whatever they observe along the way.   When things finally settle down a bit, the children are graduated, off to college, or even absorbed with starting their own careers and families.    What is family wealth?   In his book, Family Wealth, James Hughes discusses the importance of human capital that includes the following outcomes – ideally for all family members:   They are thriving They have a strong sense of purpose, passion, and calling They have a strong sense of work ethic and character qualities like integrity, honesty, and compassion They have interpersonal relationships both within the family and externally They understand that life does not revolve around them but that instead they are part of a greater whole, a greater cause They have spiritual grounding They are generous.   These are big ideas, which go way beyond transferring financial capital. They go to transferring intellectual capital, social capital, emotional capital, and spiritual capital as well.   Good relationships require intentionality   It’s time spent with children with intentionality – making sure they understand our story and that we understand theirs. It is time spent repairing relational damage that is unintentional but inevitable. It is making sure they are healthy, thriving, and feeling fulfilled.    Giving together creates unity   One of the best tools I’ve found to bring families together is giving together. Structurally, that may take the form of creating a foundation or a donor advised fund. But practically, it simply means doing some giving together.   Giving is the great equalizer. Suffice it to say that giving prompts conversations that everyone can participate in regardless of age or experience.   Investing in legacy   So what do you want when you think about your heirs – great joy or great agony? It will take great effort to achieve the former. It must go beyond estate documents. Estate documents are a part, but they really should be guided with the influence of all forms of capital – […]

  • Understanding and Valuing Perspective by Tom Conway

    Understanding and Valuing Perspective by Tom Conway

      How does estate planning disconnect couples? Certainly there may be many issues where a husband and wife are on the same page. They may be happy with their marriage, with their current lifestyle, with the common friends they have, but when it comes to making an important decision within estate planning, they are not in alignment. Let’s look at some of the possible reasons for misalignment.   Different Assumptions related to Upbringing   Different family backgrounds influence the way people see life. Those who grow up in wealth are likely to see an expensive lifestyle as normal. Naturally, they would expect the same for their children. Many beliefs and attitudes grow out of early life experience.   Differing Values   Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They play a significant part in the the way you view life, generally determining your priorities. Whether you recognize them or not, they are there, and they are the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.   Although it is challenging to examine how your emotions intersect with your thinking, this level of self-awareness is necessary to identify the values that motivate you. Once you recognize and acknowledge your values, you can make plans and decisions that honour them. Understanding each other’s values can easily help a couple come to agreement on decisions.   Differing Perspectives   Our perspective – the viewpoint we bring to any consideration – influences our perceptions. You have probably heard the expression, “Perception is reality.” We are satisfied that the way we see it is the way it is, and we are unwilling to entertain the thought that our view is distorted or incomplete.    Lack of understanding leads to loss of communication   When spouses don’t agree on certain topics, they often avoid the subject. This false peace can lead to devastating consequences in the future.   Pride   All of us deal with an internal nature that wants our own way.  We often feel that our way is the best and that if everyone would just do as we say, or believe as we believe, the world would be a much better place. This pride can cause us to become defensive when we are challenged. It can also lead to a closed mind.   The opposite of pride is humility. To be humble means to be willing to listen to thoughts and opinions of others with an open mind. It means being willing to submit your own ideas to the scrutiny of others. So many conflicts in life can be resolved if two people approach the issue with a listening ear and an attitude of humility.   So how can a couple resolve the issue of goal incongruity? Often they cannot do this alone. Their differences often bring on heated discussions that lead to anger, hurt feelings, shutting down by one spouse, and pain. An impartial […]

  • The Family Compass by Jerry Nuerge

    The Family Compass by Jerry Nuerge

    The Family Compass by Jerry Nuerge     Families often lack a compass for navigating through potential distractions. Most high net worth people believe that if they have signed all their trust documents and wills, they have taken care of their future. After all, their attorneys and CPAs have assured them that the maximum amount of financial assets will be transferred to their spouse and then to their children with as little loss to the tax man as possible. Unfortunately, research shows that only ten percent of financial assets make it to the fourth generation.   A family’s values are just as important as those of a corporation, but they receive far less attention. I have found it more beneficial to families to focus on three often ignored components that have the potential to extend a legacy indefinitely:   1) What are your values?   2) What virtues will we pursue?   3) What do we want our family story to be?   Collectively, these are family brand equity, the core of a family’s culture. The values define the family, the virtues build the family, and the story describes the family.     VALUES Rather than elevate whatever human values are currently in vogue in our culture, we identify our family’s values based on the evidence of our calendar and pocketbook.      VIRTUES Virtues are frequently underestimated in importance. Aristotle argued that substantial happiness and human flourishing could be grasped only through the virtues. King Solomon stated it this way: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” (Proverbs 3:1-3)   The battle of morality is not so much about knowing what is right as it is doing what is right.      STORY The family story is a crucial component. Think of the family story as an ongoing stream of past, present, and future stories of family members woven together. These stories, infused with the family’s values and virtues, provide a sense of identity as well as motivation to not be the generation that weakens the heritage.     Imagine the priceless joy when family brand equity is the focal point of our transfers to the next generation! These assets empower families to live intentionally productive lives for multiple generations.       To learn more about the Center for Family Conversations and the new book, Unheritage, click here.         WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO JERRY?     Jerry Nuerge is founder and owner of the Financial Independence Group. He is also the creator of the Wealth Integration and Transfer System™, the Generation Connection Process™, as well as the Revenue Retrieval System™. Jerry holds a BBA and MBA degree, holds the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP), is a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), a Certified Family Wealth Counselor (CFWC), and a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). He […]

  • Family Farm succession planning – equal or fair? by John Mill

    Family Farm succession planning – equal or fair? by John Mill

    Family Farm succession planning – equal or fair? by John Mill     The recent appeal decision in Mountain v. TD Canada Trust is a classic example of how badly things end up without proper business succession planning. The case involved a farm that had been in Mountain family for five generations since 1830. Gary the son had been working on the farm for 24 years since high school and had received less than average wages so money could be used to build up the farm. Gary said that his father Jack had promised to pass the farm onto him. Gary’s sister Louanne never worked on the farm.   A universal problem in family farms and businesses is that there are usually children who do not work on the farm or in the business. The question becomes how do you treat these children fairly? A common misconception is that the child on the farm or in the business will be getting a very valuable asset; however if the farm or business is not to be sold then what the child really gets is a job. The problem in this case was that Jack and Helen Mountain had identical wills. Each left all of his/her estate to the other absolutely, or if either spouse died first, the estate would go to Gary and Louanne to share and share alike. This is the default will pattern employed by most families. But in family business succession cases the default will pattern creates havoc as happened with the Mountains. After Jack’s death Gary’s sister Louanne took the position that under the will she was entitled to half the farm. So Gary started a lawsuit to enforce what he claimed was an oral agreement that the farm was to go to him. In the period between January 2000 and November 28, 2001 when he died, Jack had made a number of attempts to transfer the farm to Gary. First Jack saw Mr. Riley his bookkeeper and tax preparer. Mr. Riley had detailed notes of their discussions about how to transfer the farm to Gary. The Judge ignored these notes because Jack did not act on them. In October 2001 Jack was hospitalized. He was first visited by retired lawyer Don Elliot who referred him to another lawyer Chris Moon. Mr. Moon prepared powers of attorney to be used if Jack was disabled but he did not recall discussing any land transfers. It seems odd that this lawyer would not have asked about Jack’s intentions for the farm. In mid November Jack met with Mr. Riley again. Mr. Riley sent a letter addressed to Jack, dated November 13, 2001. The letter says: This letter summarizes our discussion of the farm rollover from you and Helen to Gary. If I understand your desires correctly, the two farms, the 46 acre lot with the helper house and the trailer on the 97 acre farm are to be rolled over to Gary. The one-acre lot at Conc. 4, WHS Pt Lot 33, is to […]

  • The New EBITDA: Emotions Before Interest Taxes and Depreciation

    The New EBITDA: Emotions Before Interest Taxes and Depreciation

    The New EBITDA: Emotions Before Interest Taxes and Depreciation by Tom Deans, Ph.D.     Sitting in the departure lounge at LAX, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between an investment banker and his younger associate. I learned two things. First (and most business travelers can relate), it is amazing how cavalier people are about discussing confidential details in public places. The second confirmed something I had been thinking about family businesses for some time.   The older of the two bankers was whining about how he thought the slam-dunk deal they had just presented was now probably never going to happen. On and on he grumbled about the time he had spent running the numbers, lining up partners and generally bringing the deal to a crescendo, only to have the business owner change his mind about selling.   The investment banker was completely perplexed about why the offer, the numbers, the multiples that looked so good weren’t enough to entice the owner to do the deal of a lifetime.   It took everything I had to stop myself from leaping into the conversation and selling him a copy of Every Family’s Business (it wouldn’t have been the first time). But I exercised extraordinary restraint and settled back and listened to him talk about the clever structure of the deal, the tax that could have been saved and the instant wealth the owner would have secured if only he had been smart enough to take the deal.   Emotions are Squishy – Not the Stuff of Deal-Makers in Suits   The funny thing about listening in on a conversation is that the longer you listen the harder it is enter the conversation. So I bit my tongue and instead simply wondered how many other business brokers, M&A professionals and investment bankers expend such effort trying to bring deals to fruition only to have sellers back out. I wondered how an entire industry of intermediaries could so badly underestimate the emotional connection that owners have to their businesses, and also fail to understand how these emotions can scupper so much good work and extraordinary planning and lead the owner to ultimately destroy the business’s value.   When really bright finance experts hear the word “emotions” you can so often see their eyes roll back and the calculators shut off. Yet students of the greatest financiers of all time – deal-makers like Warren Buffett – know that these people get deals done by running the numbers and then engaging business owners in the one corner of their life where most number crunchers don’t go – their family. It is the rare rainmaker who has both the left and right brain firing on all cylinders.   Warren Buffett Buffett and other great deal-makers know that the sale of a business will typically result in a “liquidity event” that will leave owners with more wealth than they feel comfortable consuming. Most business owners accumulate wealth precisely by denying themselves consumption. Sellers will often kill deals, blaming a low bid price, […]


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