Last month, I discussed how traditional estate planning focuses on wills, trusts, and other legal, tax, and financial structures. I emphasized that such an approach has been largely unsuccessful in sustaining multi-generational wealth. I proposed that if we “Put People First”, we might better sustain wealth and help people live more happy, fulfilled, meaningful, and joyous lives.
So, how might we put people first? We’ve developed what we call a “Universal Framework”. The framework breaks planning down into four phases – Discovering, Designing, Implementing, and Stewarding. Our framework keeps people top-of-mind as we engage in ANY planning process and implement financial and legal structures. By keeping people top-of-mind during each planning phase, we believe that planning becomes more relevant and ultimately more successful. Why? Traditional estate planning often focuses on minimizing taxes by dividing money among beneficiaries and/or deferring the payment of taxes. What winds up happening is that assets get distributed to unprepared beneficiaries, only to see those assets dissipated because beneficiaries weren’t engaged in the long-term planning and strategy of the family. In other words, the plans don’t involve the beneficiaries; they are done to them. We believe that what’s missing is the participation and involvement of all family members – in other words, the people.
What might we do differently? We begin by focusing on each individual’s True Wealth – that which is most essential for each family member. Each individual family member’s clarity and awareness about their values and priorities and their vision of the future prepares them to contribute to the overall planning, implementation, and stewarding of a family’s assets.
Much like a successful sports team or a high-performing orchestra, family members need processes and structure in order to perform at their best as an organization or enterprise. Everyone participates and contributes, even if their contribution is relatively small. This notion of a “Family Enterprise” seeks to optimize the way a family functions together; that is, the enterprise seeks to optimize the people, process, and structure of the family.
To carry the metaphor of a sports team or orchestra one step further, we (The Certior Group) function much like a “conductor” or “general manager”, maintaining the flow and momentum of the planning process. We adapt our Universal Framework to collaborate with other professionals. We then focus our endeavors on keeping people top of mind as we co-create, curate, and optimize products and services for the benefit of our client families. Our role is to maintain collective focus on long-term individual and multi-generational family happiness, fulfillment, meaning, and joy. It’s our notion of what “Stewardship” is all about.