As the year draws to an end, like I do every year, I take the time to review 2018 and ponder 2019. I’ve always known that what we do matters, but this year end is different. While the words themselves are not necessarily new and unique, this seems to be a little too close to home. Of course, the caveat is that just saying we as financial planners, can deliver on our value propositions to clients is one thing; actually doing so is another.
Losing yet another client to a long battle of cancer is tough. We just received the unbearable news that “Joe” had just passed away, leaving a family of 3 children. Fortunately, Joe and his wife Jeanie have been working with us for over 10 years, so they have planned very well. My compliments to Joe for his constant fear, “will Jeanie and the kids be taken care of?”
Jeanie rarely showed up for our meetings, knowing that Joe was the ultimate planner himself. Jeanie emphasized that as long as she had my telephone number, she didn’t need to come to the meeting. Talking about the ultimate compliment! We have already begun the process of Joe’s estate, benefits, and insurances on a proactive basis. I cannot fathom what a new widow goes through and how overwhelming this process must be. Jeanie even thanked me for ‘having her back.” It's the least I can do.
I am sure that you’ve been working hard and investing for years, and likely feel that you have enough resources to live well and feel confident in your financial future. Your primary consideration though should be building that legacy for your family and future generations. No matter what your asset level, planning for ‘their’ future can never be understated. I’d also consider holding family meetings to clarify your values and illustrate plans for the transfer and management of your wealth when you’re gone. Joe did this, and now Jeanie and their children should have no worries that their goals and aspirations could not be achieved.
Most people have a general idea about what they hope to accomplish with their wealth, but may be unaware of the multitude of considerations and options available for realizing their goals. By creating a family mission statement of your values and communicating with your family about your basic philosophy of transferring assets, you can establish clarity and avoid surprises. What we do matters!