When I return from fishing in Canada, people will often ask how many fish I brought home. Sometimes I will get confusing looks when I reply that we never bring fish home. We keep fish to eat while in Canada but release all of the other fish we catch. Catch and Release is just one of the programs in place to make sure that there will be fish for the anglers who show up on lakes and rivers after we are gone.
Many lakes and rivers we visit have additional rules aimed at protecting fish for future generations. Some require that you use “barbless” hooks and others require single (instead of double or triple) hooks to limit the stress caused when removing hooks from fish we catch. This summer, my favorite fly-fishing river, the Yampa in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was closed to fisherman because the low oxygen levels in the low water could harm the fish as they battle their capture into the net. The fishing community sets a good example of how to protect and pass resources on to the next generation.
If you believe that we are merely borrowing resources from our children and future generations, then you want to return them in the same or better condition than when you borrowed them.
Over the past twenty-six years, when advising families and business owners about many financial topics, I find that my favorite planning meetings involve helping transfer businesses and other wealth to future generations and charities. It is especially fulfilling when the planning includes charitable gifts because often times it involves inviting children and grandchildren to get involved.
When families create donor-advised funds, charitable trusts and other vehicles, and when they invite their children and grandchildren to get involved in the process, those families create a lasting legacy of giving and create stronger bonds among the family members. They also use this process to pass the experiences and knowledge needed to respect and manage the wealth they will inherit. Most people who inherit wealth have no idea how hard it was to create, especially when beneficiaries are third and fourth generation-removed from the wealth creator. Successful mentoring must teach how hard it is to create and maintain wealth, so that it is respected. Charitable planning is one of the best ways I’ve seen that done.
I work with a family that meets annually to award scholarships to high school students from a fund created by forward-thinking parents. I have never met the originators of the scholarships, but I assume they would be delighted to see how this annual event connects the children and provides them with an altruistic, collaborative experience. As the family members review applications and interview candidates from all backgrounds, they encounter life changing stories that give them greater appreciation for their blessings, including the endowment of giving bestowed by their parents. Like the rivers I fish in, my clients’ lives and their future generations are in better condition because parents cared to transfer knowledge in addition to wealth.
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”.