We explore five best practices for approaching multigenerational wealth transfer.
Akey concern of wealthy family leaders is that the great wealth they have spent their lives building will have eroded within a couple of generations.
Despite this very common fear, not many families start planning to transfer wealth to future generations until a change is imminent – for example, a turn for the worse of the family leader’s health.
This rushed attempt can lead to an ineffective strategy and disappointed family members.
Planning to pass wealth to the next generations can often be complex and a highly sensitive, emotional process.
Family leaders understandably want to ensure their wealth is preserved for future generations. However, they have to face the realities of letting go of control – and entrust others to carry on the legacy they have created.
A family’s future, legacy, and wealth depend on future generations of family members. Therefore, it is vital families plan an efficient and effective transfer of wealth well in advance, ideally when there is little emotional impetus, and with the understanding this could take several years.
From our experience working with wealthy families around the world, we have identified several best practices used by those who have successfully executed wealth transfer strategies.
We believe both wealth creators and beneficiaries may find these considerations useful when creating a multigenerational wealth plan.
Wealth transfer strategies
1. Establish key values and aspirations in your wealth plan
Before starting the journey, family leaders should define which values they want to pass onto their families and how these should be implemented, for example in any particular business, philanthropic, or investment activities.
These aspirations can be in the multigenerational wealth plan as long as there has been clear direction, which comes from a clear vision.
It is equally important that family leaders understand the values and aspirations of their younger family members.
A family leader’s passion may be in his or her much-loved business, but his or her children may not share this interest.
If this is known beforehand, for example, the leader can either hire an external candidate to take over the business or arrange a potential initial public offering.
2. Create a balance between supporting family and preserving wealth
A robust multigenerational wealth plan should ensure family members will lead prosperous lives with many opportunities available to fulfil their ambitions.
However, it is also important to implement thoughtful processes to minimize scope for spendthrift beneficiaries such that family wealth does not dissipate within a few generations.
For example, a family leader who knows his or her family has a few budding entrepreneurs could set guidelines within the wealth plan that all family members must present any new business ideas to a board of trustees.
Each member could be given three opportunities to be pitch their proposal before being encouraged to pursue other interests.
3. Trial next generation family members
Younger family members should go through a trial phase to determine how prepared they are for the added responsibilities and pressures of managing wealth.
Not only will this reveal how they perform, but also gives further training and education if necessary. Through this process, both wealth creators and beneficiaries can feel confident when changes occur.
For example, some families give next generation family members a small allocation of money to invest in an area of particular interest – for example, social investment – and have an investment professional mentor them through the process.
4. Don’t forget the tax implications
Tax should be a key consideration to creating an effective multigenerational wealth plan.
Family leaders should seek the advice of an independent legal and tax advisors to minimize unnecessary taxation and preserve wealth for future generations.
5. Strive for family unity
Establishing a wealth transfer strategy to benefit future generations can cause family disagreements or highlight deep-rooted issues.
Even though each individual will have their own unique life goals and aspirations, it is integral a family stay united throughout.
All family members must remember the prosperity of the family lies at the heart of this entire process and work together for the plan to succeed. The smoothest transitions are the ones where family leaders accept there must be a compromise between the legacy they want to leave – and the future their families want to create.