Family Meetings and Estate Planning

THE SITUATION

Mr. E is a father of a family and a serial entrepreneur who has been highly successful in several businesses. While he was busy creating wealth, Mr. E often neglected his estate plan or simply added on to the existing plan using whatever attorney was working on his business affairs at the time. The result, not surprisingly, was an incoherent plan where the pieces were only loosely connected to one another, if at all.

When Tolleson Wealth Management was engaged by Mr. E, we analyzed and presented several scenarios to him about what would happen at his death and how his assets would be distributed among his children and second wife. He quickly saw the need to change things, since the vacation home his wife loves would have been controlled by his daughters and his grandchildren would have been left with more financial assets than his daughters.

THE SOLUTION

Based upon this review, we began a series of family meetings – first with just the couple themselves, but then including the daughters (who are in their mid-30s). In these meetings, we talked about the family’s goals and the way they wanted their assets to be distributed and used by future generations. We discussed decision-making for the family’s operating business assets, and began to educate the entrepreneur’s wife and children about the details of his business affairs. Following these discussions, we completely revamped and updated the estate plans for all of the family members (including the daughters) and created a private family foundation for the family’s charitable activities.

Our meetings helped cement the bonds between the family members, increased communication and given everyone better skills for joint decision-making that will be so important to the family’s future.

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