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For centuries, “comprehensive planning” for most families has consisted of two elements: financial and estate planning. And for centuries, 90% of that planning has failed when measured by the objective of helping the family to retain both their family unity and their assets for more than two or three generations.
This is not a recent phenomena. Since ancient times, the majority of inheritance plans have failed. Two thousand years ago a Chinese scholar penned the adage: “fu bu guo san dai,” or “Wealth never survives three generations.” In thirteenth century England they said “Clogs to clogs in three generations,” and in nineteenth century America the expressions became “From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” And, over 200 years ago, Adam Smith – of “specialization and division of labor” fame – summed it up in “The Wealth of Nations” when he said: “Riches, in spite of the most violent regulations of law to prevent their dissipation, very seldom remain long in the same family.”
The basic principles of most of the Inheritance Planning today were put in place by King Henry VIII nearly five hundred years ago
This three generation cycle is not news to financial and legal professionals. Ask a room filled with advisors how many have seen families torn apart by issues surrounding money and inheritance, and you will see every hand shoot up. And yet, traditional, two-element planning continues to be the dominant framework within which most people prepare for their futures. (By the way, when we say ‘traditional,’ we mean it: the basic system of inheritance planning used in the Western world today is not much different than it was in 1540, when England’s King Henry VIII pushed his Statute of Wills through Parliament and set in motion many of the processes and procedures we use to this day!)
Change comes slowly in the world of planning. The most significant changes since the 16th century have come about in just the past quarter century. In the mid-1980’s, Bob Esperti and Renno Peterson formed the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys with a goal to “Change how America Plans” to use Living Trusts and avoid probates in even modest estates. Within 10 years, the Network had grown to over 1,500 members, and Living Trusts were becoming the norm in all estate plans. The National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys helped change the way America did its estate planning; which was a wonderful accomplishment.
But, they still did not transform how America plans. That is the goal of heritage planning, and the increasing number of advisors, non-profit officers and educators around the world who are introducing the 3rd Element of Planning to their constituents.
Tom Deans Understands Family Business Relationships
Lugen Family Office is proud to select Tom Deans as the LFO 2013 Speaker of the Year Award Winner! Congrats Tom and keep up the great work.
Dr. Thomas William Deans is the author of the all-time best-selling family business book, Every Family’s Business: 12 Common Sense Questions to Protect Your Wealth.
He now speaks on the international lecture circuit full time. Having delivered more than 500 speeches, he has built a reputation as a thought leader on the subject of intergenerational wealth transfer.
His lectures and books argue that family has emerged as the greatest economic driver of all time. But the question remains: How can wealth be transferred successfully without destroying the recipient and the wealth itself?
It is a question for the times, as the greatest generation of wealth creators move toward death in record numbers. Deans explores the idea that communication is crucial to the success of that transfer, and indeed to the success of individuals, families and communities.
The idea to write Willing Wisdom came from Tom watching his mother’s parents die. One death – his grandfather’s – was comparatively quick. His grandmother’s was a long and slow ten-year decline. Despite the significant wealth his grandparents left for family and charity, it is the conversations they shared that Tom thought about the most many years later.
In the end, when it came down to their last breaths, only the care provided by Tom’s parents, not money or even the promise of money, could purchase the dignified death each experienced.
Tom is not sure when he first became curious about why our culture has lost its inquisitiveness about death and dying, but he does know, having delivered his keynote speech on transitioning family wealth to tens of thousands of people around the world, that this trend is worsening.
We live in a culture that is in awe of wealth and all that it can provide. We also live in a culture that finds it difficult to talk about and contemplate death. The two are inextricably connected.
Tom starts conversations, but rarely does he finish them, leaving that to readers and their families, friends and trusted advisors.
Willing Wisdom represents a return to the subject of his doctoral research, conducted in the US, Canada and the UK and first published in Charities and Government by Manchester University Press.
Tom lives in a forest in the beautiful Hockley Valley in Ontario, Canada, with his wife, two children and five dogs.
John Mackey on Whole Foods, Conscious Capitalism, and Life Beyond the Profit Motive
“I think the critics of capitalism have got it in this very small box – that it’s all about money,” explains John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods. “And yet, I haven’t found it be that way. I’ve known hundreds of entrepreneurs and with very few exceptions most of them did not start their businesses primarily to make money.”
In “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business,” Mackey and his co-author, Raj Sisodia, make a case that businesses are at their best when reaching for a higher purpose that ranges far beyond any simplistic notions of the profit motive or self-interest.
Reason’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Mackey to discuss his new book, the success of Whole Foods, the growing burden of government on day-to-day life, and how the Austin-based entrepreneur came to appreciate what he calls “the heroic spirit of business.”
Lessons In Leadership – Episode 2 – Family Businesses
When it comes to family-run businesses, there’s a common saying that the first generation creates a business, the second builds it and the third squanders it away.
Is there any truth to that? Bloomberg TV India’s Mini Menon discusses how best family run businesses survive generations as she speaks to Professor John Davis, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, Harvard Business School on Lessons In Leadership.