At the Alchemia Group we are helping our clients think & act differently in regards to their wealth and its impact on thier family - because we know it is more than just numbers and plans, it's the Balance of Art & Science with Pragmatism and Vision.
Martin Buber, an Austrian born Israeli philosopher, first described the idea of relating to another person as either an ‘object’ (it) or as a human being (‘you’). When I treat someone as an ‘It’ I’m treating them as an object separate from me. However, when I see the other person as ‘You’ they can now be part of a living relationship. It is these relationships that give life itself meaning. Dialogue and interaction are the next natural consequences.
Too often we move through the day seeing only ‘Its’ and missing a whole lot of ‘Yous’. The barrista, the cashier, my lawyer, my daughter, my family can too easily be descriptions of its rather than of people.
For February try this a few minutes each day. Intentionally think about the person you are interacting with only by name. For example, notice the name of the server at lunch and hold that instead of thinking of him as your server. If you need something ask for him by name rather than the more usual “Can you ask my server to come over?” If you are talking about your son or daughter use their name and not their role in the family. The more you do this the more even small interactions will become richer.
So what does this have to do with Family Wealth Plans? Planning for wealth transitions across generations we use a lot of ‘tools’ like wills and trusts. Are they written on an I – It premise or do they create relationship and dialogue between the trust creator and beneficiary? There is no reason they can’t. The best biographies effectively create relationships between the readers and the person biographed. The best estate and legacy plans allow the recipients the opportunity to know and be in dialogue with an ancestor.
Planning Pointer: If you haven’t reviewed your Family Wealth Plan documents now is a natural time to do it. Ask your attorney or other advisor how the document speaks to your family. Ask yourself ‘Do I hear my own voice in this document?’ If not you may want to add a letter of intentions and hopes to your plan.