A Powerful Exercise to Surface the Values You Want to Pass on to the Next Generation

A Powerful Exercise to Surface the Values You Want to Pass on to the Next Generation

Every one of us receives and passes on an inheritance. The inheritance may not be an accumulation of earthly possessions or acquired riches, but whether we realize it or not, our choices, words, actions, and values will impact someone and form the heritage we hand down. — Ben Hardesty

Successful estate planning is about far more than simply passing your wealth to the next generation— it’s also about passing on your values. No matter which financial or legal structures you choose to contain and manage your assets, these instruments only preserve your wealth until it reaches the hands of your beneficiaries. What happens then? Your values enabled you to accumulate wealth and persevere in spite of obstacles and long odds. If your children and grandchildren don’t share and cherish those values, they could lose their inheritance as quickly as they received it.

But our values can be hard to capture in language. They seem second nature to us only because we live them every day. Here’s an exercise to help you identify your (perhaps) rarely-spoken moral code and communicate it to the next generation.

The Science of Surfacing Your Subconscious Values

In Chapter 3 of his bestselling book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, productivity author David Allen discusses what he calls vertical project planning— that is, identifying the “why’s” and “what’s” of any project before engaging with its details. To reveal the standards that you have regarding any task, just finish the following sentence:

“I would give others totally free rein to do this as long as they…”

For instance, if you’re planning a dinner celebration for your dad’s 70th birthday, you could fill in the blanks as follows:

…as long as they created a budget for the party and got buy-in from both of my sisters to contribute;

…as long as they made sure to double check the guest list with mom;

…as long as they booked a restaurant within 30 minutes from my parents’ home.

As it pertains to communicating values, we could reword it like this:

“I would give a total stranger free rein to guide the people I care about most about how to live a great and moral life as long as they…”

…as long as they make sure to communicate my core values of creativity, compassion and integrity;

…as long as they give many concrete examples of these standards being met and not met to demonstrate exactly what I mean;

…as long as there’s some mechanism to remind my family of these values in an ongoing way, so that they don’t forget;

…as long as they make inheritance from the trust I establish conditional on whether my beneficiaries live these values.

Estate planning is ultimately not only about passing along your tangible wealth and deciding how to distribute assets. It’s an opportunity to ensure your legacy into the next generation and beyond. Clarifying your values and working to effectively pass them along can be a profoundly liberating experience. Please contact our team for insight about how to get started with this process.

Our Web Site Selected as 1 of the 50 Best Law Firm Websites

Recently I became aware that our website was included on the list of 50 of the Best Law Firm Website Designs as selected by InBound Law Marketing. Although this list was compiled in 2016 I just recently became aware of it. I certainly think our recently redesigned website is one of the better ones out there and it is nice to know that others do as well, especially a company in the business of website marketing.  Here is a link to that article. 

50 of the Best Law Firm Website Designs

Bloomington’s Favorite Law Office

The Like Law Group was recently voted Bloomington’s Favorite Law Office by the readers of the Herald-Times newspaper. From all of us at the office we are honored that so many of our clients as well as other professional advisors took the time to vote. We will continue to strive to be worthy of your future votes as well. Thank you!  A link to the entire Readers’ Choice Awards can be found here:

 2016 Readers Choice Awards

IU Continuing Studies Class

I will be teaching a class, along with local financial advisor, Tony Stonger, on financial and estate planning.  This course is being offered through the Indiana University Continuing Studies program and it will meet for three (3) consecutive Saturdays beginning October 1, 2011. The dates are October 1, 2011, October 8, 2011 and October 15, 2011.  The class will meet from 9 a.m. to noon each of those Saturdays.  Tony and I will cover various financial and estate planning topics including critical steps in preparing for retirement, including the key features of bonds, stocks, mutual funds, and asset allocation, and how to reduce taxes on your investments. We will discuss the use of insurance in helping protect against unexpected life events. I will be addressing various estate planning issues including the top 10 mistakes people make in estate planning, and how to avoid them; the truth about probate; how to reduce the death taxes your family will pay; long-term care estate planning; and how to protect your beneficiaries' inheritance. We have taught this class a few times before and it has always been enjoyable and the particpants came away with a much better understanding of the plannig they needed to undertake for themselves.  For more information and to enroll please click on the following link:


Indiana Continuing Studies Course

I am currently teaching an adult continuing studies course through Indiana University.  I am co-teaching it with a local finacial advisor.  This course is covering the basics of investing and retirement planning as well as the basics of estate planning.  There is a group of about 28 individuals taking the class and it has been a joy to teach.

Teaching this course helps me realize how many misconeptions people have about estate planning and financial matters.  Several class attendees have talked to me after the class, or have asked questions during the class, which make it clear there is a lack of education out there about proper estate and financial planning.  Hopefully this course will prompt the attendees to get their affairs in order and to avoid problems should a crisis occur.

I have also tried to emphasize the importance of considering estate planning a lifetime process.  It is not a one-time event which is then put on a shelf and forgotten.  Rather, they must make sure to review their planning every few years with their advisors to make certain it is still up to date with their needs and circumstances.

If you are interested in attending future offerings of this IU Continuing Studies course it appears it will be offered by IU again in the Spring of 2011.  Contact us or Indiana University's Continuing Studies office for more information.