How to Create a Sustainable Family Legacy

“Family legacy” usually refers to the mark you leave on the earth, but I also think of it as the gift of a lasting family for future generations. As a child of divorce, I watched my family bonds dissipate after my grandmother passed. As the co-founder of the Sendero Family Legacy initiative, I see my work as a chance to help families avoid that trap.

What Goes Wrong

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves” curse, which refers to the fact that most family wealth disappears by the third generation. Without proper governance, this outcome is more likely than not. Most parents believe they’re bolstering their legacy, because they’ve demonstrated a good work ethic, but have they treated their family with the same care as their business? That requires sharing information and responsibility, training the next generation, and relinquishing control.

We help with succession plans. Statistics tell us most people need that help. Sixty percent of family fortunes are squandered due to lack of communication and trust1. The consequence of leaving this to chance and wishful thinking are bleak.

How We Can Help

The Sendero team can break the “shirtsleeves curse” through education and open discussion. Too often parents have backroom deals with different children, creating animosity among the others, but Sendero takes families through a process that creates transparency and what we call “light of day” conversations. We help families craft a mission statement that acts as a guiding force. We facilitate dialogue between generations.

Most people don’t like to talk about money. But those conversations are the best way to train your kids to be good stewards of their wealth. Many businesses hire a business coach to help guide their leadership teams. Sendero Legacy acts as a family coach to tackle those tough but necessary family discussions, often around money and the complexities it can bring. My co-founder Scott McMillian and I have twenty-five years of experience, both professional and personal, dealing with these issues. I think of us as “family whisperers.” When it comes to creating a lasting legacy, it’s never too early to start.

— Tara D. Maxwell, Vice President, Client Service & Human Resources



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