As we begin a New Year and reflect back upon the holiday season, we may still be relishing in the joy of our favorite gift! Maybe it is a beautiful piece of jewelry, a new golf club, the latest smartphone, a clothing item, or a gift card we look forward to using. Yet, it probably won’t be long before the nostalgia of that new, favorite gift wears off or is even completely forgotten. Doesn’t that happen? How many gifts can you recall receiving over the years?
As a family, we recently talked about our gift-giving and the fact that we can seldom remember year to year the specific gifts we received, unless of course, it was particularly unique or personal to us from the gift giver. This past Christmas, some of us admitted the stress that comes with running around to stores or even shopping online to find that perfect gift can sometimes take the joy out of giving gifts and the true meaning of the Christmas season. However, we found that we were able to reminisce in great detail, with laughter and joy, sometimes even tears, experiences we had shared together and reflect upon how much more those experiences positively impacted us individually and as a family. We agreed that store-bought gifts did not mean as much to us as those experiences, and we decided to give more gifts of time, experiences and life lessons to each other in the years to come.
As an estate planner, I often share with clients and their families the statistic that 90% of families fail to keep their family and their wealth together for more than three (3) generations.[i] This statistic is not necessarily the result of inadequate traditional financial and estate planning, but more likely the failure to emotionally prepare the family for the wealth they inherit. One way to possibly overcome this is to provide the family with pre-inheritance experiences where the family can work together, make decisions together and have fun together! A recent study re-confirmed that families are more comfortable in discussing legacy than they are inheritance because legacy captures family traditions, stories, life lessons and values.[ii]
This year consider giving the gifts of time, experiences and life lessons to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and special holidays. Rent a cabin or lake house for the weekend and gather the family together. Take a cooking, art or dance class together, play more board and card games, go bowling or ice skating together. If there is an activity that you enjoy, invite your children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews to participate with you. Encourage family members, including young children, teenage children and adult children to participate in planning. If generosity and stewardship is important to you, you should encourage and teach family members to volunteer time and resources to charity. Each year employees in our office and clients gather their own families and friends for an afternoon or evening to participate in packing meals for the charity “Feed My Starving Children.” Another colleague and close friend of mine encourages her family members who receive monetary gifts from her to give away at least 10% of their gift to a charity or someone in need; her 8 year-old granddaughter recently gave her money to a family where the mother was battling leukemia. Another friend’s five daughters recently contacted the local charity that he and his wife had been supporting with both their time and financial resources to ask the charity’s greatest current needs and rather than buying material gifts for their parents, the five daughters went together and bought the items needed for the charity.
My father has always said, “…the greatest gift we can gift is the gift of time…” Our time is precious to us and often limited with the demands of life, it is something we can never get back or get more of. When we give of our time, we truly give of ourselves, and we can create lasting memories.
[i] Perry Cochell and Rod Zeeb, Beating the Midas Curse, Second Edition 2013, Page 13
[ii] Allianz American Legacies Pulse Survey, 2016
• This material is intended to be educational in nature, and not as a recommendation of any particular strategy, approach, product or concept for any particular advisor or client. These materials are not intended as any form of substitute for individualized investment advice. The discussion is general in nature, and therefore not intended to recommend or endorse any asset class, security, or technical aspect of any security for the purpose of allowing a reader to use the approach on their own. Before participating in any investment program or making any investment, clients as well as all other readers are encouraged to consult with their own professional advisers, including investment advisers and tax advisors. Munn Wealth Management can assist in determining a suitable investment approach for a given individual, which may or may not closely resemble the strategies outlined herein. 1323DGG