Wealth Stewardship: Deciding from Hope

by | Sep 1, 2020

Are You Planning From Fear?

In my 25 years as an advisor to wealthy families, I never met a parent who wasn’t concerned whether giving their kids too much too soon would ruin their work ethic. This seems an inherent part of wealth stewardship and parenting. They feared it could be too easy for their children to become “entitled.” That word conjures up all sorts of negative behaviors: someone who doesn’t want to work for what they get, spends wildly, always expects the best, doesn’t wait their turn, rules don’t apply to them, etc.

Anxieties about producing entitled kids can be common, especially with wealth creators who didn’t grow up around significant wealth. They worked hard and made sacrifices along their way to building financial security. The challenges they overcame taught them life lessons they worry their kids will miss out on.

Wealth Stewardship: The Scary Future

With estate planning, the tax and legal framework provides only so many choices for minimizing estate taxes. It gets much harder once you get into the specifics for how all your hard-earned wealth should transfer to your heirs. That is when you are in charge of deciding exactly who gets how much, when they get it and how they will access the funds. Imagining your children inheriting significant wealth without you there to guide them can trigger all sorts of scary stories:

  • My kids won’t know what to do;
  • They will blow their inheritance on a life of excess;
  • They don’t know struggle and will never make their own living;
  • It’s my job to make sure it lasts for their lifetime.

When the worst fears for our kids take over our thinking, we can come up with scores of penniless and helpless futures for them. Pretty soon, that is all we can see, and so we try to prevent it. Designing an estate plan as a fortress takes over as the primary goal, as if they will be in extreme danger of losing everything with no idea what to do without us there.

What if your heirs are smart and disciplined and will make wise choices? What if they have a talent or passion to share something extraordinary with the world?

If safety were the only factor to consider with how our children grow up, then we might as well pack them in bubble wrap and lock them in the house forever. We know that doesn’t prepare them to navigate in the world, even if it would keep them safe.

Why does our worst-case thinking seem helpful in looking at estate planning, specifically as it relates to kids inheriting wealth? Couldn’t wealth stewardship include a much broader range of possible—and more likely—outcomes?

father and daughter flying a kite at sunset


Supporting Opportunities

Balance out negative scenarios you’ve imagined by shifting your gaze to focus more on the greatest hopes for your children’s future. What if your heirs are smart and disciplined and will make wise choices? What if they have a talent or passion to share something extraordinary with the world? Might their inheritance support their creativity or commitment to serving others? What if they use the money to build a wonderful and fulfilling life? We can help you imagine that future.

If you have designed an estate plan fortress, attempting to prevent the worst-case future, counter that dark view by listing out all the brilliant outcomes your heirs could have. Somewhere in between your darkest fears and greatest expectations for your children will be the most likely outcome.  That’s what you want to make sure they are ready to embrace.

An estate plan designed from hope will also support the greatest opportunities ahead for them.


Mimi Ramsey

Mimi helps individuals and families to navigate the unexpected challenges that new wealth can bring. Whether making decisions about your own estate, a recent inheritance, or an upcoming business transaction, you have realized the transition isn’t as simple as expected.

Being awarded certification by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) means Mimi spent hundreds of hours studying, honing her skills, and demonstrating exceptional proficiency as a coaching professional. She is a proud member of the SeattleCoach Certified community.

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