Archive for financial legacy

Heritage Book Review : PREPARING HEIRS

This month’s book recommendation comes from Nancy Ellis, Chairman Emeritus and Member of the Board of Directors.

Nancy selected:

Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to a Successful Transition of Family Wealth and Values

“Preparing Heirs is a road map for families that desire to build a successful family business that will go into all generations of business,” said Ellis.

From the publisher:41tEVFJiKTL._SX300_BO1,204,203,200_

Preparing Heirs discloses the surprising findings from the authors’ research into the legacies of 3,250 wealthy families. With extraordinary insight, they reveal what the relatively small number of successful families had in common-how they achieved and maintained family harmony, and ensured the smooth transition of their wealth to well-adjusted heirs. They also warn of the wide range of factors that cause the majority of wealthy families to fail in their transition. Preparing Heirs offers clear, concise, well-organized, and easy-to-follow instructions that will enable you to evaluate your plan for transitioning family wealth. Preparing Heirs is an assessment tool that can be used in conjunction with the services of qualified professionals such as attorneys and accountants. It addresses the major causes for the 70% failure rate in estate transitions, which lie within the family itself and are within the family’s control. This book can help you develop a plan to transmit the family values underlying the accumulation of wealth and prepare your heirs to be good stewards and thoughtful administrators of that wealth.

To find out more about the book, click here. 

Generational Management

by Kevin Karpe, Heritage Trust

Kevin KarpeWhen I was 25 years old and new to the business, I served as a trustee for a 90 year-old Holocaust survivor. That experience not only changed my view of what it means to administer trusts, but helped shape my view of the world. She asked that we get together on a weekly basis to talk about her investments, but when I’d come to see her, I would have two bottles of wine with me. One to drink, one to last her through the week. She explained so much more to me than I would have ever been able to explain to her. Twenty-five years and a couple of generations later, I’m still administering a family trust and repeating those stories the grandmother entrusted to her family.

As relationship managers, we take our duty very seriously. There’s more to managing a relationship than can be contained in the four corners of a document. We take time to get to know our clients very closely. It’s our obligation to understand the expectations of a grantor while recognizing the needs and aspirations of the beneficiaries. In a nutshell, we spend our days transferring wealth, as well as values, to the next generation.

My enjoyment comes from working with families, often over multiple generations. A relationship with a family can be short and simple, like administering an estate over the span of a few months, or last for decades, like managing a trust for grandchildren.

We ask our clients, “What legacy do they want to leave?” Not necessarily spending or budgeting or asset management, but what are your values and what values do you want pass on?

A common mistake clients can make is drafting a trust document and then not readdressing the overall plan when there’s a big life event such as a divorce, a child graduates from college or reaches a certain age. Those are all good opportunities to readdress your intent and adjust accordingly.

When it comes to selecting a fiduciary to work with, I think it’s important to look at the following things: Experience. Independence. Rapport. Clients need to have confidence in the institution as a whole and look at their history.

As a relationship manager, I look forward to the unique life stories and legacies each client brings and figuring out how we can do our part to pass on that legacy.

Kevin Karpe is senior vice president, relationship management, for Heritage Trust.  You can read more about Kevin here and contact him anytime at

Professional Perspectives: Dynasty Trust 101

By:  Scott Sewell, attorney and shareholder McAfee & Taft in Oklahoma City

This article was originally posted in Spring of  2010


Scott Sewell

Since joining McAfee & Taft A Professional Corporation in 1982, I have been assisting individuals and families with careful planning for the management and disposition of their assets. One of the most powerful tools available to these individuals and families is the dynasty trust. Properly structured, a dynasty trust can keep an individual’s assets from being included in his or her estate, so the assets can pass estate tax-free from one generation to another.

A dynasty trust is designed to hold assets in trust without direct ownership being transferred to any beneficiary (i.e., your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.). The value of the dynasty trust is that the trust’s assets are available to provide for the health, education, maintenance and support of each and every one of your descendants. Then, for example, when a child dies, the remaining trust assets will pass to individual trusts for each of that child’s children. This pattern can go on repeatedly through the generations as allowed by state law. As long as the dynasty trust does not allow too much access by the beneficiaries, the trust’s assets are not regarded by the IRS as being “owned” by the beneficiaries and are therefore not subject to estate tax in their estates when they die. This presents a marvelous opportunity for the trust’s assets to grow for future generations because any appreciation in those assets is also exempt from estate taxes. An additional benefit to the dynasty trust is that, because the trust’s assets do not belong to any of the beneficiaries, the assets are generally protected from creditors of the beneficiaries in the event of lawsuits and divorce.

One particularly important aspect in the creation of a dynasty trust is the selection of a trustee. A corporate trustee is often the best choice because an individual will not live long enough to carry out the trust’s provisions. In addition to longevity, a corporate trustee offers the following advantages:

  • It is a specialist in handling trusts and has investment and tax expertise.
  • It is impartial — free of emotional bias and conflicts of interest with the beneficiaries.

When considering the implementation of a dynasty trust into an estate plan, the key questions to ask are (1) Do you want your assets to be protected from future divorces and lawsuits your children may face and (2) Do you want your assets to be able to grow and pass federal estate tax free from your children to grandchildren? If the answer to either question is “yes,” then you should consider a dynasty trust as a part of your estate plan. Transferring wealth to future generations without the assets becoming subject to the claims of ex-spouses, creditors or the IRS is the way that dynasties have been created in the past and the way in which dynasties can be created in the future.

Scott Sewell’s practice is principally focused on the representation of individuals, families and business owners in the areas of strategic estate planning involving wealth preservation and transfer, estate and trust administration, and business succession.

The Greatest Gifts

by Phil Buchanan, Argent Financial Group

My mother was born just prior to the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. Although only a child during this period, she quickly learned to be a good steward of finances. It was a trait that followed her for the rest of her life. It was also something that she sought to instill in my sister and me. I can now look back and realize that her teachings with regard to the honor and value of work, of the necessity of saving and investing, and of the nobility of philanthropy, were among the most important and greatest gifts she gave to me.


In a society where financial information is more readily accessible than ever, I observe many families who are not engaging their rising generations in meaningful conversations with regards to wealth, its purpose, its capacity and its stewardship. While the immediate risks of not engaging in such dialogue are limited, the longer term impacts can be quite negative.

At an appropriate age (most professionals tend to suggest between 14 and 17), children of families with means need to be brought into discussions as to the foundational beliefs and values that the family shares with regards to wealth. A basic primer on the structure (not value) of the family’s wealth situation (business interests, core portfolio holdings, royalty interests, etc.) is usually advisable at this time as well.

As children continue to demonstrate interest and maturity towards learning more, these discussions and teachings should continue. One of the greatest risks a family can take with regard to wealth is failing to educate and prepare future generations. With a bit of effort and patience along the way, you can ensure proper stewardship of wealth for generations to come.