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Leaving an inheritance that matters.

As Christian stewards and managers, we ought to be more concerned than we are about leaving an inheritance to our children and grandchildren.  After all, the bible says that, "A wise man leaves an inheritance to his children's children." But when you look at the statistics, you see that Christian families (as well as non-Christian families) aren't doing a great job at this.

Here are a few reasons why and why it matters more than you may think.

Leaving an Inheritance

I was reading an article from Next Avenue, and was intrigued at their conclusions on this matter.  Here's what they said were leading causes of families who fail to leave an inheritance correctly:

  • "Mostly, it related to a family’s ability to have meaningful, productive and honest conversations about the impact of money and the purpose of the wealth."
  • "Some of it was due to the heirs’ relationship to wealth. For example, whether they had a direction in life, understood basic personal finance or knew their role in the estate plan once it transferred."
  • "The rest was attributed to the family not having a shared understanding of the purpose of the wealth. In other words: Did they see themselves as stewards or socialites? Did family values lead decisions related to the wealth? Was there alignment regarding how distributions were to be handled?"

Let's look at each point quickly.

Point #1 is so simple to correct and change:  TALK ABOUT IT!

Why are families failing to leave an inheritance that doesn't end in tons of grief and disappointment?  Because they are simply failing to talk about death, dying, wishes, expectations, etc.

This ought not be the case for God's people.

As Christian money managers, we have an obligation to not only manage it well while we are alive, but to help pass on that stewardship to those who we leave it to when we go.

If you don't talk about it, you can't do this.  It all starts and ends here.

(As a part of my Coaching programs, I highlight this in my 8 Steps of Christian Wealth Management.  It is such an important part of leaving a lasting and godly legacy.)

Point #2 goes hand-in-hand with the first point.

Whose job is it to manage money?  Ours.

Who job is it to ensure that those who we leave an inheritance to understand these principles?  Ours.

So, whose to blame when the next generation of money managers doesn't understand what God says and how God thinks about money, wealth, responsibility, stewardship, etc?  Ours.

We must learn that managing well and hearing God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" will include the legacy transfer of not just money itself, but (more importantly) the wisdom and principles that helped guide you being passed on to those who will inherit what you pass on.

Point #3, as with the other two points, is an extension of this simple conversation.

It is clear from our conversation here that talking about money and helping the next generation understand the principles of money before you begin leaving an inheritance is crucial.

But do you know how you would answer the basic question at hand:

"What is the purpose of wealth?"

How would you answer that question?

It's important that you understand the implications of how you answer this and that, ultimately, you do answer it! 

The reason is simple:

Your ability to leave a lasting legacy hinges on your answer.  No matter what you do, you are leaving an inheritance.

The question is, what kind of inheritance are you leaving?

Will it be one that is clearly defined and articulated well to the next generation?

Or will it be unspoken, unclear, and leave others to fend for themselves or to define what that means on their own?

Take charge of your money and transfer your wealth according to God's principles and wisdom.

Talk about money as early as possible and as often as possible with your family and loved ones.

Grow in your knowledge of Scriptures and learn to see what God sees in terms of wealth and wealth transfer.

Leaving an inheritance of money is great.

Leaving an inheritance of wisdom and godliness is even greater!

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