Wealth Transfer Goal: Keeping the Houston Family Together

MP900442275“I had this fear that wealth could dissolve the family and the business would disintegrate,” Mr. Wiener, 68, said. So he hired coaches and consultants, had family meetings and set up a family foundation — all with the goal of keeping his family together after he died. “It’s not perfect; it’s an evolving process.”

Whether rich or poor, homey or worldly, it’s about keeping the loved ones together and passing on the family wealth most efficiently.

Whatever your station, you might learn a thing or two from the problems faced and solved by others. As the New York Times notes in a recent article titled “Looking for Ways to Keep Money From Dividing a Family,” you can especially learn from those who happen to be part of an exclusive club like Tiger 21.

Tiger 21, if you are unfamiliar, is a club of investors that happen to have $10 million to invest and recently met to discuss the very issues of estate planning and keeping the family together as detailed in the original article. As you would imagine, these are families with especially large and unique planning considerations, and some complex ways of making it all happen. Their struggles and solutions, as a result, are all the more instructive.

Even if you’re not a card-carrying member of the club, the principal problems the members face are powerful and the article gives us a few ideas to chew on. For example, how do you pass on wealth and what conditions do you attach to it? On the one hand, you don’t want to be overbearingly paternalistic. However, there is definite value to setting goals and, especially, when it comes to not spoiling the young.

So, how do you make the plan work? It has to be set on a solid legal ground and also understood in the familial way that it is intended. And just what will keep the family together? What will prevent infighting and actually keep the family members together as a core group?

There are some personal stories sprinkled throughout the original piece and, because your family is unique too, these are principals you may want to apply and questions you may want to ask of yourselves. How will you keep the family together?

Reference: The New York Times (March 21, 2014) “Looking for Ways to Keep Money From Dividing a Family

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