For My Shoeless Children

Originally published in Flourishing Mar Apr 2013

I’ve worked with many of you on legacy issues over the years, and I feel very good about that.  So, lest you think I’ve become the cobbler with shoeless children, I want to give you an update on my own plans.

Linda and I have just updated our Durable Powers of Attorney and our Healthcare Powers of Attorney.  We’ve had a meeting with our daughter, Janelle, who will be our agent/trustee in the event that both of us are incapacitated or dead.  New wills and trusts are still being drafted, and here’s the thing you’ll most want to know: 

“There will be a business continuation plan imbedded in those documents.” 

That means that Family Wealth Management will outlive me, and our clients will not need to look for a new advisory relationship; though, of course, that decision will still be yours.  You’ll also want to know that I’ve put incentives in place such that if they choose to do so, Dari and Alicia can remain with Family Wealth Management.  Indeed, they may still run the place,  much as they do now.  That is certainly my hope and intention.

It’s hard to describe how I feel about all this.  In one sense, I’m relieved to know that in the event of my death, Linda will receive a fair price for my business; but I’m not wildly enthusiastic about the idea of being prematurely dead.  I still have big goals, not the least of which are to grow Family Wealth Management to five full-time employees, including two financial advisors, and to attend my grandchildren’s college graduations.

To achieve those goals and many others, my uppermost intention, naturally, is to remain alive, healthy, and working.   Besides, when I look at my Social Security check and consider what Uncle Sam may do to salvage Medicare in the coming years, I wonder why I would ever want to retire. 

So, if you’re willing to stick with me–and I fervently hope that you are – I’ll continue in this work that I do truly love, doing my best to help you and your families flourish.  For a long, long time!  mh

Outwitting The Difficult Child

Originally published in Flourishing January 2012

The worst thing that can befall any parent is to outlive one of their children. In that regard, Linda and I have been very lucky, and a day does not pass, but that we give thanks.

I believe that it’s equally sad when a parent or grandparent has given up on their child or grandchild. This is perhaps a more common tragedy. Thankfully, we have not had that experience, either; but at times, we have had serious communication gaps.

I’m neither a psychologist nor family therapist, but here is what I think I’ve learned:

When you feel your child is shutting you out, or just talking past you; that child may be telling you something important about your own communication habits. Please know that I’m telling you this as a friend, and as a serial offender: That child may be, in effect, your family’s Jiminy Cricket.

From more than twenty years of working closely with hundreds of families, I’ve concluded that a key to the success of flourishing families is their ability to extend unconditional love, and to convey an unconditional commitment to listen non-judgmentally.

So, if you’re considering giving up on your child or grandchild, you might want, instead, to step back and ask yourself, “What message am I missing—and what opportunity is our family forfeiting—because I’m not willing to listen and learn?”  mh 

HT:  John A. Warnick, http://johnawarnick.typepad.com/seedlings

Your Personality is Important, Pass It On

Originally published in Flourishing December 2010.

You have things in your home that are important to you, not just for their tangible value, but for their intangible or symbolic value, for the memories attached to them, the stories, too, perhaps.

In my case, I have pictures and letters dating back to the mid-19th century and a dictionary owned by my mother’s grandfather. They have no monetary value, but I have in my mind the stories that my mother shared with me. I know those people. I understand who they were and, more importantly, they’ve provided me with insights into the person I am.

I have evidence of our children’s and grandchildren’s childhood creativity and achievements, their school pictures, and much more. Someday, I think and hope, they’ll appreciate the love that Linda has put into preserving the spirit of their youth. They, too, may gain insight into the development of their own personalities and interests.

I have a ring that belonged to my father’s mother. Violet Nestelrode Harvey died in 1924, when my father was just six years old. I have pictures of her, too. I cherish these things, because I can see that she was a loving and caring mother, profoundly missed by my father and his two younger brothers, Forrest and George. I can now understand the effect her premature death had on their lives and their personalities, and they on mine.

As I approach my dotage, all these things are more treasured than ever, and someday, I believe, they’ll be treasured by others who share my lineage. All have a story attached to them. My siblings and I have taken it as our responsibility to preserve those stories, as well as the artifacts, for the people we must someday leave behind. We’re working on that right now.

Let me ask you: What are those treasured things in your life, and what meaning or story is associated with them? What is the most significant object or heirloom that was given to you by a child, a parent, your spouse, or an ancestor? Did the person who gave you this object or heirloom tell you a story about that item? Can you—will you—share a story of remembrance or gratitude with those who will inherit these things from you?

Can you—will you—share your personality with those members of your family who will otherwise never know you? Do it for them. It will, I promise, bring new joy and understanding into your own life. mh

Washington’s Purposeful Will

Originally published in eFlourishing Issue 34, October 27, 2010.

I’ve just recently joined a professional development collaborative led by John A. Warnick, founder and CEO of the Purposeful Planning Institute, based in Denver. John A. was formerly a partner in the Denver office of Holme Roberts & Owen LLP, a prestigious international law firm.

The Purposeful Planning Institute provides its collaborators with weekly and monthly conference calls and regular on-site training sessions at varying locations around the country. I expect to add to my understanding of issues related to intergenerational wealth transfer from this collaborative, and I hope to translate what I learn into practical benefits for clients.

This week, though, I just want to share something I gained from a personal telephone conversation with John A., and from my membership in the Purposeful Planning Institute collaborative.

George Washington – my great-grandfather’s namesake – has taken a lot of heat over the past couple of decades – despite his indispensable role in America’s founding – because, it is alleged, he didn’t free his own slaves. In response to that line of thinking, I’ve always said that the man deserves immeasurable credit for helping to lay the foundation for the actions of Abraham Lincoln and others, who are more widely recognized for their advancement of civil rights equality. And, I’ve said, you have to give a man his historical context.

So, I was delighted to learn about Washington’s 16-page, handwritten will. You can go online and google it for yourself, but here, thanks to John A. Warnick, is a transcript of the relevant portion.

Upon the decease of my wife, it is my Will & desire that all the Slaves which I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom. —To emancipate them during her life, would, tho’ earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties…And whereas among those who will receive freedome according to this devise, there may be some, who from old age or bodily infirmities, and others who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves; it is my Will and desire that all…shall be comfortably cloathed & fed by my heirs while they live; —…And I do expressly forbid the Sale, or transportation out of the said Commonwealth, of any Slave I may die possessed of, under any pretence whatsoever. —And I do most pointedly, and most solemnly enjoin upon my Executors…to see that this clause respecting Slaves…be religiously fulfilled.

Washington went on to establish a trust fund for the establishment of a free school for educating the children of poor and indigent slaves.

Isn’t it amazing what I didn’t learn in school? Until next week,

PATIENCE, DISCIPLINE, and CONFIDENCE in the FUTURE! Mh

 John A. Warnick and Purposeful Planning Institute are not affiliated with, nor endorsed by, LPL Financial.