The Institute for Preparing Heirs® emerged from the work of The Williams Group – a consulting team dedicated to increasing the success rates of wealth transitions in ultra high net worth families ($25M net worth and above) and from the work of wealth advisors. Data collected during their field work indicated that in spite of excellent tax and estate planning by professional advisors, most wealth transfers fail over 1-3 generations, with “failure” defined as “loss of control of family assets and harmony”. The main contributors to this loss were in the realm of family dynamics, most notably in a lack of trust and communication, lack of preparation of heirs and lack of a unified vision regarding the wealth. The Williams Group created tools and a coaching process that has been highly beneficial to many families with more than $25M net worth.
However families under the $25M range also struggle with the same challenge of transitioning wealth successfully. In fact, almost all families can benefit from learning about the factors that contribute to resilient wealth transfers and those factors that seem to contribute to failures. Successful transfers rely upon knowledge, tools and specific action steps – but to date, tools and services such as those provided by The Williams Group were not available to families with under $25M.
Beyond this, financial wealth advisors have often felt ill equipped to have conversations with clients about how non-financial issues of wealth transition may be best addressed. Advisors did not have a knowledge base to draw from in order to assess their own competence in beginning this conversation, nor did they have useful resources to share. Until recently, many advisors did not understand the value proposition to their practices of having these conversations, and their role in retaining the multi -generations of client families.
In 2009, Institute for Preparing Heirs emerged to address these challenges and opportunities on behalf of wealth advisors. The Institute built on The Williams Group’s 40 years of experience to re-draft tools and processes, making them applicable to all families and useful to all wealth advisors. The foundation from The Williams Group is broadened and enhanced with the addition of contemporary research and additional resources. A basic assumption is that, with education and a knowledge base, having conversations (between advisor and family members; among families themselves) will be beneficial.
Through Institute for Preparing Heirs, advisors learn about having meaningful conversations to launch a process that fosters successful wealth transfers at many levels. Tools and resources are made available for families to use on their own or with guidance from their advisors. If a family elects to take further steps, resources for consultation and facilitation will be made available.