Family Fiduciary Secret #2:
Never Lose Sight of the Big Picture
As you live day-to-day, it is easy to overlook the long term implications of the decisions you make as a family fiduciary. In today’s video, you will learn:
Your viewpoint on life and the context from which you make decisions and take action can make all the difference between where you want to go and where you and your family end up.
It’s like everything else… In the movie “Groundhog Day”, it was the same thing every day and Bill Murray really wasn’t going anywhere. Although the underlying theme of that movie was a bigger picture and until he figured it out, he couldn’t get out of that loop. So that movie is a really good example that if you’re just looking at things one day at a time or at just what’s in front of you, you’re really not setting yourself up for success to make any progress of any magnitude.
Most families start out as accumulators. You get married and find a job so you can start saving money. Some people are more entrepreneurial than others, but either way, they are working for a long period of time to the point where they can be financially independent. And by the time you get to be financially independent, whether you’re an employee or you had your own company, you shift gears from accumulator to harvester. This is where you’re sitting back and you’re enjoying your life.
We found out all this information by working with these various folks in these various stages of life over the years. This information isn’t something that is published in any book other than maybe something that I wrote in an article. So this is something that we discovered over a period of time.
So then as people morph into harvesters, they’re not concerned about accumulating anymore. They start thinking about their legacy and their family and their responsibilities. This period is what we refer to as the stewardship phase, where they’re looking outward and taking care of family members and the community. They are still building wealth but also deploying that wealth in a way that is in line with their purposes.
And then if we’re talking about a nuclear family and there’s a couple living in a community property state like California, eventually somebody passes away. Eighty percent of men pass away first, but that doesn’t mean people always die in order. The surviving spouse is left to carry on.
Now we return to the beginning where the two spouses have their different points of view. When you’re married, there are compromises and after you’re not married anymore, those compromises aren’t necessarily a priority. So the surviving spouse, whether it be male or the female, has a task to finish the estate plan.
While you’re alive, you can change a living trust, but once somebody passes away, the trusts are made to usually split the estate in half. The split estate is now irrevocable and half of it can still be changed. So that surviving spouse has to plan and implement the end game.
An interesting statistic is that 80% of the time when the husband passes away first, the average widow lives another 14 years. It’s a long period of time and a lot can happen, so the planning continues.
However, when the surviving spouse eventually passes away, there are usually heirs if they don’t have any children or if they decide that they just want to leave everything to charity, then that’s that. Or they could live on forever in the form of an endowment or something like that, but often there are heirs to pick up the legacy.
Depending on their preparedness, they will carry on the legacy. But once again, they have a different point of view, so they’ll go in a different direction. And then as the heirs receive these inheritances, they either become accumulators again or harvesters. But eventually that cycle: accumulator, harvester, steward, surviving spouse, and heir can carry on for generations.
And that’s the big picture that I see where families have an advantage, even over corporations, because what they have is love. So families have love, wisdom, and money; and if they want to and look back at the big picture, they have the opportunity of keeping that going.