Entrusted Book Review – By Jennifer Figurelli

Entrusted Building A Legacy that Lasts

Book Authors:  David R. York and Andrew L. Howell 

Continuing education is essential in our business and often includes reading articles, books, and white papers.  I received a recent “present” from Andy, which appeared to be just another book on estate planning.  Reluctantly, I took it home and sat it on my nightstand as I assumed it would be nothing more than a sleep aid- the usual technical, tax-driven and downright boring textbook.  To my surprise, I didn’t expect to enjoy reading it as much as I did.  I decided that it would be a good piece to include in this newsletter. It’s an easy read, and a book that I recommend to all my clients.  

Entrusted Planning, according to York and Howell, is built on seven disciplines. I am going to focus on the fourth discipline: “Entrusted families focus on flint and kindling and not on the fire”. 

York and Howell describe the pitfalls of today’s traditional estate plan: “dump, divide, defer and dissipate”. They call it the shotgun approach, and a “linear way of thinking because it focuses on the “fire” (the result) and not on the “flint” and “kindling” (the tools and resources that produce the result)”. 

According to an article written by Steve Hargreaves in CNN Money, “this dump, divide, defer and dissipate model is largely the reason why 90% of wealth accumulated by the first generation is depleted by the third generation.”  (money.cnn.com/2014/06/25/luxury/family-wealth) 

Instead, the authors encourage entrusted families to see the passing of their wealth as flint and kindling.  This provides the next generation with the tools and resources to ignite their own fire, as opposed to simply handing over the results of their hard work.   The flint is what starts the fire, and the kindling is the opportunity to keep the fire going to encourage effort.    

Flint is in the form of human capital.  These are an individual’s unique abilities that either their parents fostered, and/or they developed through experience.  Some examples include work experience, athletics, artistic development, volunteer service, travel.  Kindling is the financial capital; but just enough “to capture the spark from the flint and gives it something to ignite.”  Examples of kindling are savings for education, assistance with starting a business, or providing a down payment on a home.    

The concept of flint and kindling was a great reminder to me that what we value is not necessarily considered of value to others.  When it comes to an inheritance, this is also true.  An outright transfer of wealth to the next generation often brings a diminished value on those assets.   However, by viewing the passing of our assets as flint and kindling, we can encourage behaviors that focus on opportunities, not just focusing on the assets themselves.

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