The Importance of Intergenerational Planning

When I was expecting my oldest daughter, I was consumed with this overarching need to plan.  I planned everything.  Once I had planned out every detail of her first five years of life, I thought I would be able to finally relax.  Wrong.  About three weeks before she was born, I awakened in a panic; I had forgotten to plan the most important thing!  How in the world was I going to give her the opportunities and support she needed to make her way in the world and become a productive citizen!  For the next several weeks, I spent hours each night comparing 529 College Savings Plans, reading about wills and creating life goals that would benefit her in the long run.  Without knowing it, I had engaged in my first instance of intergenerational planning.

So what exactly is intergenerational planning?  In a nutshell, it is ensuring wealth accumulated during our lifetime is not squandered by future generations.  Approximately 70% of wealthy families will lose their wealth by the second generation, and 90% will by the third generation[1].  While the statistics are ugly, the truth is that we have the power to affect what happens within our own family.  Here are some good places to start:

Foster frequent and effective communication.  We all have our own money story that plays into how we talk, or don’t talk, about money.  Now’s the time to get over it and start talking!  As parents and grandparents, we are in a unique position to teach our children financial literacy.  By including the whole family in money-related discussions, we foster knowledge and critical thinking which will benefit our future generations immeasurably.

Talk about the will.  This one can feel really uncomfortable.  I, for one, don’t enjoy the thought of my parents departing from this earth, but the reality is that one day they will.  By communicating transparently about the will, issues among family members can be addressed sooner rather than later.  It’s much easier to understand what our parents want their estate to accomplish if they are still around to tell us.  If having this type of conversation is too uncomfortable to embark on alone, consider bringing an outside party, such as a family counselor or mediator, into the mix to facilitate the conversation.

Create a collective vision.  Ok, so this one can feel a little fru-fru, but it is actually a very powerful tool in intergenerational planning.  The main idea is to clearly lay out expectations for spending, saving and giving back.  This is a good place to share different strategies for wealth preservation as well.  The vision can be as detailed or basic as your family desires.  By creating a collective family vision, you are all working together as a team to preserve family wealth and pass on your family’s values.


Opinions expressed in the attached article are those of Rachel Tanksley, Associate Financial Planner, and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Investing in stocks always involves risk, including the possibility of losing one’s entire investment. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James financial Services Advisors, Inc. Starks Financial Group [440 Montford Ave. Asheville, NC 28801; 828.285.8777] is not a registered broker dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.

Be sure to contact a qualified professional regarding your particular situation before making any investment decision. You should discuss any legal matters with the appropriate professional.

[1] The source for cited statistics is a Time article, available at: