When most parents begin thinking about planning for their family, the first thing they typically think of is picking up the phone and calling a professional.
When it comes to the work that needs to be done, most planning is done in a lawyer’s conference room. Unfortunately, as we’ve talked about several times in previous posts, the failure statistics are high under this traditional method.
There are many families you’ve likely heard about over the years, whose stories demonstrate this failure, like the Vanderbilt’s and the Stroh’s families. This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned these families, but it’s become more and more obvious that what is still being done today isn’t working.
I strongly believe that more is accomplished for your legacy through what you do in your living room compared to what you accomplish in your lawyer’s conference room. Inside of living rooms, we develop relationships. We have conversations with those closest to us. These conversations are sometimes surface, but strong families also understand and set aside intentional time to sit down and have hard conversations about the things that really matter.
It’s during those times that we build on our relationships. At the same time, we develop and feed into the core of who our family truly is. I believe there are three specific things that you can do in your living room to make a difference in the kind of legacy you create.
First, we focus on what we stand for as a family and look at how long that legacy can last. In Psalm 78:5‑7, we have a scriptural model that speaks to creating a family legacy for up to five generations. “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors [1 Generation] to teach their children [2nd Generation], so the next generation [3rd Generation] would know them, even the children yet to be born [4th Generation], and they in turn would tell their children [5th Generation]. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”
Focusing on what we stand for and who we are is the most important thing that we can pass on. More than anything, it becomes a beacon members of the family can look to as they make decisions or consider how they want to represent the family. This can affect their own generations and beyond. How exciting would it be to know what your focusing on today could last long beyond your time here on earth?
Second, we focus on emphasizing wisdom. Ecclesiastes 7:11‑12 says, “Wisdom is good with an inheritance and profitable to those who see the sun. The wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.” This was written by King Solomon and emphasizes the idea that wisdom is the most important inheritance each one of us could leave.
Without wisdom, the ability to handle any financial inheritance would be lost. Before we start planning what to do financially, consider emphasizing and focusing on how to leave wisdom and impart it to our heirs.
Third, we focus on the three G’s of family legacy: growth, governance, and generosity.
Over the next few months, I’ll be discussing each one of these independently. Each topic can set the stage to begin a family conversation about how we work together, how we encourage and support each other, and when necessary, how we challenge each other to expand our beliefs or think beyond ourselves.
When you take the time to step back and think about the things that are important, you realize building or creating a legacy that lasts requires a lot more thought, a lot more time and a lot more of your involvement. It requires more than simply showing up to a meeting in a conference room, to be advised by a professional who does not know your family intimately.
At Paradiem, our goal is to help families create a legacy that is built to last. It’s our belief that it all starts by inspiring wisdom in the generations to come and having challenging conversations in your living room. If you would like help getting started on those conversations, give us a call at (985) 727-0770 or email [email protected].