What’s keeping you up at night? This question (or some variation of it) is a common way for an estate planning professional to break the ice with a new client. The answers reveal an overlapping and perhaps surprising pattern. No, the typical worry is not a vendor relationship for the client’s business, an estate planning technique, high taxes or rising interest rates. Rather, the most frequent answer is that clients are worried about their most precious asset – their kids.
This concern transcends all wealth levels. Parents worry about whom their kids’ friends are, or a child struggling at school or possibly even battling substance abuse. Parents worry about not being able to pass on the unique values and stories of their family. Parents worry about connecting with their kids and grandkids in a world where many of us now connect using 140 characters or less.
Of course, these are all complex issues, and surely, estate planners cannot solve these problems through a well-drafted document. However, thoughtful planners can help the family engage in a process that can ignite their collective passion and can help build bridges among generations. The vehicle for this process is philanthropy.