Family Value Statement
I read an article in this week’s Maclean’s magazine that more and more of Canada’s "Super Rich" are drafting family value statements. According to the article, approximately $3 trillion (though the figure varies depending on the source) will be transferred in the coming decades to the next generation. The Super-Rich are particularly concerned that their children, as beneficiaries of this wealth transfer, will take the easy way out and decide not to work or give back to the community. Warren Buffet received a great deal of press when he stated publicly that he would not leave his fortune to his children. Instead, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was the recipient of Mr. Buffet’s considerable largesse.
According to the article, a value statement spells out those values that are important to the family and can include values that speak to community, work ethic, and religion. Apparently, the Super Rich are willing to pay various consultants significant amounts of money to get the statement just right. Every family member is asked to participate so that everyone buys into the process and the statement withstands the test of time.
Whether the average Canadian family actually sits down and crafts a family value statement is debatable. However, most families will discuss informally, whether over dinner or around the campfire, the values that motivate them and help them navigate life’s many choices.
However it is done, it makes good sense for parents to sit down with their children to not only talk about the pending transfer of wealth, but their expectations (and aspirations) as to how their children will spend their inherited wealth. It is a truism that money has always been hard to handle.
Have a good weekend.