Objective: To unite family members and advisers around plans to help family leaders leave a meaningful legacy through the wise stewardship of philanthropic capital.
In the Ultimate Gift movie, a video of the family patriarch appears on a large LCD panel in his lawyers office. The children and grandchildren are gathered around the conference table to learn what their inheritances will be. The patriarch (James Garner) addresses inviduals with salty language recorded before his death. He clearly indicates that he has not been happy with how wealth and privilege have been used and abused. After talking first to his children, he turns to his grandson Jason and offers a disappointing assessment of how Jason has used his wealth. The grandpa tells Jason, in front of everyone, that for Jason he has the "ultimate gift."
The Ultimate Gift movie often leaves viewers wanting to communicate their values to their beneficiaries in a similar family meeting. Fortunately, talented videographers can help the patriarch and matriarch communicate what matters most as they recount stories from their earlier years. The parents will often share emotional stories about finding money to start a business, crystalizing the vision that inspired the team, making decisions in difficult times, holding to core principles' key employees, or establishing a succession plan. All of these stories can help beneficiaries appreciate the sweat, blood, and tears that accompanies each check they receive from the family trust. These videos can be shared at the start of annual family meetings where family members review their success in perpetuating the family's success.
The common denominator uniting family members is very often an interest in using charitable tools, such as charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts, to leave a meaningful legacy. The charitable trusts can make asset distributions to a family foundation or family advised fund at a community foundation. During family meetings, advisers can help family members learn how to invest, budget, and give these assets in a way that perpetuates the family's legacy while equipping the next generation to steward assets more effectively.