Family Love Letter

A Legacy Over and Above Material Wealth

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Helping Families Beyond Financial Inheritance

Brown and Company thinks beyond dollars and cents. We want the very best for our clients and their future generations, and we are here to help you pursue the legacy you desired. This very personal service allows you to provide your heirs with more than material things.

This service is among the things that set us apart from other wealth management firms. While we are large enough to offer the same financial planning services that the big firms offer, we are small enough to provide this personal service that makes a difference in our clients’ lives beyond a good investment plan.

What Kind of Legacy Do You Want to Pass On?

Often the focus of estate planning begins and ends with the execution of proper documents and the titling of assets. It is common that surviving family members often lack information about the assets, liabilities and intentions. For example, how many children know where a parent wants to be buried, or who the pallbearers should be?

Beyond assets and funeral plans, have you articulated anything pertaining to the “non-financial” inheritance you would like to pass on, such as life lessons, family stories or values? This is your chance to let your spouse and children know what’s important to you and what you want carried on through the generations.

What Is Involved in the Family Love Letter?

While many people are reluctant to discuss the tragedy of their death or disability with family members, they are typically less reluctant to leaving behind written information. This is one of the benefits of the Family Love Letter. Estate planning is not fundamentally about those who have passed away and the avoidance of a death tax. Instead, its most important goal should be to provide “a legacy for the living.”

The incapacity or death of a family member is always a traumatic event. But the emotional turmoil and family pain are often magnified by the resulting confusion over the plans, assets and desires of an incapacitated or deceased family member. The mental fogginess that accompanies the family’s trauma is increased by the inability to make basic decisions because of the lack of basic information.

The Benefits of Creating a Family Love Letter

Here are two examples that illustrate the advantages of having a Family Love Letter & Organizational Plan in place:

Example 1: Without a Family Love Letter in Place

The father of a client was committed to a long-term nursing facility due to Alzheimer’s. The client spent four days going through her father’s papers (and making endless phone calls) trying to locate basic information about his life, long-term care, and health and disability insurance policies. She also had to determine whether he had filed his income tax returns and discern his assets, debts and benefits from military service. Even after going through the process, she was never quite sure she had a full grasp of all the things she should know. The Family Love Letter is designed to substantially minimize this lingering worry.

Example 2: With a Lover Letter & Organizational Plan

A widower client came to our office for a consultation. He had no children, and no one had any knowledge of his personal assets or liabilities. In his documents, he appointed an old friend as his executor. We worked with him to create a Family Love Letter & Organizational Plan, organizing all his important documents in our online vault.

When he died, his friend was able to reference his organizational plan, which included the Family Love Letter, and see that he was to be buried next to a deceased wife who died 20 years previously. He knew who the pallbearers were and how the memorial should read. After death, the letter gave the executor and our firm the basic information about his estate, including the ownership of several vacant tracts of land in other states — assets we might have had a difficult time locating without the list.

View Our Family
Organizational Plan Checklist

Important Information in a Time of Confusion

We have designed this Family Love Letter & Organizational Plan to provide “information in a time of confusion” and to help minimize the inadvertent mistakes that are often made during these tumultuous times. While undertaking this planning helps save time, that is not its primary purpose. The primary purpose is to reduce the confusion and stress that almost always accompany the death or disability of a loved one, and to articulate your intentions and what matters most to you.

We recommend that you complete the documents, keep a copy with your important records, and consider providing a copy to family members and professional advisors. You may also wish to convene a family meeting during which your advisors and heirs can discuss both the documents and your intentions for the family. Such a meeting also allows your advisors to gain a greater understanding of the family dynamics that may impact the client’s plans.

1NOTE: Some of the information on this page was provided by Enterprise Fund Distributors, Inc. in partnership with John J. Scroggin, J.D., LL.M. in an article titled “Information in a Time of Confusion.”

With Brown, You’ll Know!