Happiness, Purposeful Planning, and Family Meetings - Notes from the NPGC Annual Seminar

I spent much of last week at the LDS Philanthropies National Planned Giving Council’s Annual Seminar.  It is a great conference where Attorneys, Accountants, Wealth Advisors, and Trust Officers from around the country gather to discuss planned giving and the best practices when advising families in regards to wealth transfer.This conference was one of the best ever.  The keynote speaker was Arthur C. Brooks, author, advocate of free enterprise, and president of the American Enterprise Institute.  Mr. Brooks spoke to us about the need people have to be happy, why some people are happy, and the role that giving can play in happiness.  His research demonstrates that people really find happiness by detaching themselves from “things” and one great way of doing this is through charitable giving.Another highlight for me was the presentation of John A Warnick, attorney and founder of the Purposeful Planning Institute.  John A inspired us to be more thoughtful in our approach to planning.  He exhorted us to be excellent technicians, but to still make the plan personal and purposeful.  John A asked the compelling question: “If you ripped the first and last page from your trust or will, would your family know that it was your estate planning document?”  I am going to follow John A’s lead in my practice and work to make the estate plans we draft more purposeful.The last presentation I wanted to highlight was the panel discussion involving the Jack & Phyllis Bridwell family.  Listening to the Bridwell family explain the process they used to make decisions about transferring their substantial family fortune to the next generation was impactful.  It showed the power of family meetings to unify a fractured group of siblings.  It showed that the next generation (G2) is not just a group of “slackers” living off the gravy trains sometimes referred to as Mom and Dad, but that they are real individuals with hopes, dreams and aspirations of their own.  Involving G2 in the process can ensure that they are fully invested in making sure the plan works.  Most importantly, the Bridwell story showed the power of planning in building lasting relationships.  While most families do not have the wealth of the Bridwell family, every family can benefit from implementing some of the same thoughtful actions to achieve the goals of the family as a whole.What a great conference.I can’t wait for next year.