Prepare Your Family for its Collective Responsibility Along with Individual Opportunity

Every family has its unique set of unwritten dynamics. These are played out when families get together for events or introduce new family members to the “clan.” You may have seen this played out to an extreme in the movie: “Meet the Parents” when Greg Focker meets his girlfriend’s parents on the weekend he plans to propose to her.

Of course, like most people do before the “big introduction,” Greg’s girlfriend, Pam, prepared him to meet her parents.

But, she did not prepare her family to meet Greg and here is an important point. Only half the equation was prepared. And because of this, the meeting did not go as Pam had planned.

Now, I want to relate this to legacy families. Families with family businesses and wealth do all they can to prepare the money for its eventual transfer. They, like Pam, forget to prepare the second element; for her it’s her parents, for families it is the family members as a family unit. Not doing so, like it did for Pam’s family, can create unintended consequences when it’s too late to change the outcome.

Just like Pam found out what happens when only one side of the equation is prepared, you can’t expect individuals to agree on something they are not prepared to discuss in a unified and manner if they are not prepared to do so.

Without preparing the family for the responsibility of the wealth, a family and its wealth is at tremendous risk of fractionalizing. Individual agendas will surface. Like the Fockers, the individuals will champion their own agendas. They have not been prepared for anything else. Prepare your family for the responsibility of wealth. You will be glad you did.

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