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Estate Planning

3-Cubed Lessons for Families & Lawyers who Serve Them

By December 26, 2012No Comments

Faces of Today's Family

As the year draws to a close, reflection is a natural activity. So, below are reflections about relationships that are key to “family work,” whether you’re working on yours or working for someone else’s.

  • Reconnecting. Most of us have various “families,” including the one into which we were borne. High school or college classmates who take the journey with us from late childhood into early adulthood is one example. Coworkers who eventually become close friends is another. Neighbors who share the block on which we raise our children and wave to the mail carrier is yet another. Therefore, staying connected or reconnecting with our several families provides us with multiple layers of protection, comfort, and enjoyment.
  • Relationships – good and bad – take time. Even in a most loving family, a newborn crying, pooping, and sleeping takes adjusting to. We all have unique cycles that require a little getting used to. The question is, however, how soon can we identify relationships that aren’t beneficial so that the extraction is less difficult. Logically, identifying this point sooner rather than later is key or else we may end up paying attorneys a great deal of money to unravel a ball of thorns that could have been prevented.
  • Women matter. We work just as hard as men, if not harder. But we’re paid less and that monetary standard reflects our diminished value in the eyes of our employers. That diminished value is based on the fact that we bring and nurture life – eventually more employees – and must take time off to do so. Continual and de facto ignoring women’s value will cost employers, advisors, and society dearly. So it behooves all of us to recognize the true worth of our mothers, daughters, wives, partners, and sisters. Team estrogen is moving forward, making powerful decisions about family, community, and nation.
  • Forced networking sucks. Understanding someone’s value system, work ethics, and motivation takes more than the 30-minute coffee klatch. I value my friends, family members, and colleagues so I don’t want to waste their time and the time of others with referrals who are a bad fit. Consequently, even if you’re just a referral source, that doesn’t change the fact that the first rule of networking is grounded in Lesson #2.
  • Generations are unique. Matriarchs, patriarchs, other leaders, and managers should recognize that each generation has its own set of rules. Passing on the family fortune with a heavily detailed blueprint created by Great-Grandfather Algernone will probably not bode well for the fortune or the family. Algernone’s framework may work with regular retrofitting, but the details must be fleshed out using the world as it exists in the eyes of the current generation and possibly next generation. If not, just leave the family fortune to the family pooch.
  • Reach back. At the first glimpse of success, take the hand of a junior and bring him or her along. Make the time and take the time. Even if you didn’t see it; somebody had a hand in making your bootstraps.
  • Thank you. Sincerely articulated, that 2-word sentence carries more gravitas than Olympic weight-lifters.
  • Causes are everywhere – for a reason. Millions need food, shelter, clothing, books, medicine, water, and peace. Causes are everywhere – for a reason.
  • Marriage doesn’t make the family, authentic relationships do. “She has hers; I have mine; what we build during our relationship will be ours.” This is a favorite mantra among divorce attorneys and it wreaks havoc for estate planners later when intent changes but the walls were never torn down. We must be mindful that where there are people and relationships there is overlap and trying to build one wall may undermine what could have been a solid and lasting foundation.


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