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How Do You Stop “Shirtsleeves To Shirtsleeves”? / York, PA

MP900430876The basis of modern financial management rests on the promise that you can pass along what's left to future generations. Yet, the likelihood of your money lasting is slim, and studies have pegged the "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves" failure rate at 90 percent by the third generation.

In part, many of us leave behind our assets to ensure for the future livelihood and continued wealth of our families. Some of us only think about the immediate family while still hoping to impact our entire family tree. However grand your goals may be, there is a startling trend of inheritances that fail to lift up the family. How do you ensure that your largesse will pick up the family and do some real good, rather than being squandered by this or that heir?

The startling trend of failed inheritances is known as "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves", and Reuters picked up on the issue in a recent article titled “How wealthy families blow their assets.”  It seems the kinds of problems that can arise within a family are multifaceted, but the numbers tell a similar story: inheritances have a failure rate at 90 percent by the third year.

There is no tried and true formula for a successful family inheritance from generation to generation. Nevertheless, there are some important thoughts to consider in your planning and in your conversations with your family. Managing wealth is about responsibility. Therefore, not only do you have to be thoughtful and responsible in your own giving, but you want to encourage and inculcate thoughtful responsibility throughout the family.

As the original article mentions, most heirs have a dubious understanding of how to manage an inheritance in the first place – how to use it and live with it, rather than grind it down. Fortunately, but this is a learnable skill.

So how will you teach your heirs and help ensure prosperity for your family, your heirs and even your heirs’ heirs? It’s a difficult challenge but a worthy goal.

For more information about failed inheritances, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Reuters (May 6, 2014) “How wealthy families blow their assets

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