In most Family Meetings, I know what to expect — parents inform their children about their estate distribution, children learn their roles, and are either happy or confused. However, about a year ago, we had a Family Meeting with Simon and Mary take an unexpected turn. Usually, we think of families fighting to get their share of their parents’ net worth. In this Family Meeting, one of their children surprised us all.
Patrick lived in California and worked in the tech industry. Although not discussed, his family suspected that he was doing well financially. During our Family Meeting, when discussing Simon & Mary’s wills, Patrick requested to be excluded. This came as quite a surprise to his parents and sister. Simon and Mary were adamant that they wanted to treat their children equally. Patrick insisted that he would prefer to be left out. After a lengthy and heart-felt discussion, Patrick was able to explain his reasoning. His portion of the inheritance would not affect his life financially, but he knew it could greatly benefit his sister and her children.
Three things were accomplished in this meeting:
- The parents were quite proud of how successful their son had become and only became aware of it following his selfless act.
- His sister was grateful for the generosity. It relieved her of some retirement savings pressure and other potential shortfalls.
- We were able to uncover some cross-border issues that needed to be addressed. Many times wills and powers of attorney are not adjusted when children relocate out of the country. This can be a significant issue if the child is required to act as a power of attorney or an executor in the future. We discussed these issues, and the clients took immediate action by setting up a meeting with their lawyer.
It is said that money changes people, and most often, it’s meant in a negative way. I am happy to share this particular story because it illustrates that money can also positively influence people too!