By Dr. Richard Orlando
My work with financially successful individuals and families is not focused on preparing the assets for the family but instead preparing the family for their assets with a focus on their human intellectual and spiritual capital. I function as an educator, family wealth coach, and trusted advisor to some of wealthiest individuals and families in the world. I have sat with my clients in their living rooms and board rooms reviewing their balance sheets, estate plans and life plans, and having conversations with them about what matters most to them. They’ve shared with me their visions, their philosophies, their values, their dreams, and their concerns. In our time today and during the rest of the series, I intend to share with you my discoveries from helping my clients as individuals and families plan for their legacy.
This will be the first in the series on legacy planning. More specifically the rest of the series will focus on the five most important family wealth decisions that will impact your legacy. And those decisions are 1 – How do I ensure a happy and fulfilled life for myself and my family? How do I transfer my wealth to my children and others I care about? How do I prepare the next generation in my family for the opportunities and responsibilities of wealth? How do I best give and share my resources with others? And how do I ensure that my family business or any other meaningful shared asset flourishes?
But today we are going to stay focused on: What is legacy planning? And I want to start with Steve Jobs, who we all know. Steve Jobs is a great example of someone who has had a powerful and far reaching legacy. The impact of his legacy began decades before his death and created ripples around the world, not only in the technology sector, but as an inventor, an entrepreneur, a film maker, and a philanthropist. Whether you find Job’s example inspiring or intimidating, because he has set the bar so high, try to remember that he didn’t know his ultimate legacy when he began his career and experienced his early setbacks. He was living his life step-by-step, decision-by-decision, just as the rest of us do, guided by our talents, our passions, our values, and our interests. In the process of living, he made his mark. Like Jobs he all of us are creating legacies for ourselves whether or not these are intentionally planned for or will be captured retrospectively someday in a book, magazine article, or movie.
So what is legacy planning? Let me start with what it is not. It’s not really only about making a plan for the end of life and it’s so much more than leaving financial assets to our heirs and our charities. Legacy is more than what we leave behind at the end of our lives. It’s how we choose to live each moment of our lives. It’s not so much about leaving a legacy. It’s really about living a legacy. It’s about reaching our human potential and intentionally making a positive imprint on others and the world each day of our lives. So as we think about legacy planning I’d like us to consider two things in this work. The first is: legacy planning includes planning for the human capital. In other words, in addition to what we do with the actual assets we have, homes, investments, and so forth, we have to think and plan for what happens to the human capital, our intellectual capital, and our spiritual capital, and our family, which has been shown to be the most important part of the planning needed to successfully flourish as a family and move wealth across the generations. The second important part of legacy planning is to stop thinking about it as something that happens at the end of our lives at some date we know nothing about or when it will come, but it’s more about how we live each day of our lives, and those decisions that impact our legacy which will be addressed in the subsequent series. So thank you for your time. If you are interested in learning more about legacy and answering those five questions in addition to this series that we are doing together, my book will be coming out this fall of 2013. Until then, go live your legacy.