The recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II underscores the impact of leaving a lasting, meaningful legacy. While the Queen had biographers and the media to document her life in the public eye, we have a service at The Fiduciary Group to help our clients document and pass on their legacy and wealth called The Heritage Process.
Historically, when wealth is passed down through generations in a family, the long-term prognosis tends to be poor. Research has shown that 70% of inherited wealth is lost by the second generation, and 90% is lost by the third generation. This wealth is not limited to money but, more importantly, the legacy of stories, life lessons, and traditions.
Interestingly, most families are unsuccessful not because of poor financial planning or recessionary economies, but due to unprepared heirs, poor communication within the family, and lack of common vision for the future. The Heritage Process – a multi-generational approach that is focused on the deeper ties that bind families together – encourages family members to share knowledge, refine communication skills, and articulate their values. Ultimately, families unite around those values, so that everyone is working together toward shared goals.
Primarily, we are wealth managers at The Fiduciary Group, but we believe that adding enhanced legacy planning can help families in a new way, which led me to pursue a Heritage Design Professional™ certification from The Heritage Institute™. Now, I have the training and certification to lead families and businesses through The Heritage Process.
The Heritage Process is a tool to help families inherit more than money and create an enduring legacy that transcends wealth. This process is designed to help families develop a common purpose and shared vision, along with a structure that facilitates the passing of family stories, values, and principles. It also fosters effective communication, encourages trust, and instills a shared sense of values across generations. In many ways, The Heritage Process is succession planning for families, which empowers the members of each successive generation to develop and transfer leadership skills to the next generation.
As a Heritage Design Professional™, I partner with families to build and maintain family relationships by using a highly strategic set of tools, processes, and coaching designed to help families understand that their true legacy will be their values and stories. The ultimate goal is to help families identify their core shared values and beliefs, and then make those values the foundation of their planning.
We begin The Heritage Process with a professionally facilitated in depth interview that allows the client to share stories and life lessons that help reveal how they became the people they are today. These stories are important to document and to share with the following generations.
Subsequently, we lead a family through the creation of a Heritage Statement, which is a succinct distillation of the families’ stories, values and traditions, providing a rich context of influencers and positive turning points in their lives. We document insights from the interview to create a meaningful, inspiring, and compelling document that benefits present and future generations. It can also offer context for how grantors want their inheritance to be managed. This is a living document that can be written down, filmed, or recorded in their own voice. Each successive generation will contribute to the Heritage Statement to create a collective, evolving story.
We continue the process with a facilitated day, where family members gather to identify, articulate, and prioritize desired outcomes. For most families, this is the first opportunity they have ever had to discuss what they would like the future of their family to look like in several generations. Each family member identifies their unique communication and leadership style, recognizes how they handle stress and defines the best way for others to support and respond during stressful situations.
Ultimately, we employ guided workshops and team-building activities, which are designed to develop and refine the tools to be successful. Money is almost never discussed, as the focus is on building trust, enhancing communication, and deepening connections. A rewarding activity for families is defining what the family stands for, what makes them unique, and the qualities or attributes that are “must haves” to be a part of their family.
My family started The Heritage Process in 2016, which helped us become better listeners and brought us closer together. We created our own “Team Butler” crest, wrote a Heritage Statement, took a more strategic approach to charitable giving, and empowered members of my generation to assume leadership roles. Ultimately, we learned the importance of defining and documenting our family’s values and stories to pass to future generations.
In addition, The Fiduciary Group began The Heritage Process in 2020, when we organized a team day that focused on learning each other’s leadership and communication styles. One of the key takeaways for our office was the documentation of our own Heritage Statement, capturing The Fiduciary Group’s history and spirit in two different eras: 1970 to 2000 and 2000 to 2020. Ultimately, we learned the importance of transferring our business’s history and values to future generations of the firm to continue building a high-performance team.
You don’t have to be a member of the Royal Family to plan for your long-term legacy, to unite your loved ones around shared values, and to empower future generations to serve as leaders. At The Fiduciary Group, we realize that every family is unique, which is why we offer a customized approach based on your values, priorities, and objectives. We invite families and businesses to reach out to us with questions or to learn more about The Heritage Process.