So there we were comparing notes as we relaxed on our boats at the end of a great day of fishing at Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Canada last week. Five friends and I had just completed seven hours of fishing miles of beautiful Canadian shores. That afternoon, we caught sixteen fish (thirteen Walleye and three Perch) for dinner, plenty for a shoreline feast. But I was puzzled by the difference in numbers between our boats, 14 to 2. My boat only kept two fish for the meal while the other boat had fourteen. What caused the huge difference?
We had identical boats with the most current technological “bells and whistles”. Both boats had tackle boxes full of every lure that Bass Pro says we need for success. (Do you want to buy some unnecessary lures? I have a few.) Throughout the day, we fished together covering the same spots on the same beautiful lake full of the same types of fish. As one group found fish, we all shared that knowledge, so we all had access to the same Walleye holes. So why did they have success, and we didn’t?
As we talked, I concluded that I had been the problem. (Don’t tell my wife Nancy that I’m able to admit that). I was responsible for running the trolling motor on my boat and working to make sure we moved over the Walleye holes in a way that insured my boat-mates properly presented their lures to the hungry fish. The guys in the other boat were able to drop their lines straight down, making a better presentation to the Walleye. I wasn’t as adept in managing the changing winds and currents, and often times I was focused on casting my lure. As a result, often times we drifted past the hole or hit the spot with our lines at a difficult angle. My boat-mates had skill and were properly equipped, but my timing was off in allowing them to use their assets.
In many ways, my failure to properly guide the boat is analogous to problems I see when helping families transfer wealth to their beneficiaries. Often times, we planners have the latest and greatest tools, but we do not properly guide clients or their beneficiaries regarding how to use them. In the twenty-six years I’ve assisted families in distributing wealth to the next generations and favored charities, I’ve learned that some plans fail because of the lack of transference of experiences and knowledge needed to receive, protect and grow the wealth that is inherited.
We work as a team with clients’ attorneys, CPA’s and other advisors to design and document a custom plan, giving clients the best generational wealth transfer equipment; but that is just part of the equation. Equally important is establishing and managing the processes needed to guide beneficiaries against unknown future changing winds and currents. Families need to establish and invest time in ways to pass their knowledge and experience, so the children can handle wealth. Share your wisdom with your children, grandchildren and favorite charities and the wealth they receive will have a better chance of helping rather than harming them.
Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.