The Shadow Legacy©
By Peter W. Johnson, Jr.
Why is it that traditional estate planning focuses almost exclusively on money and property? Are money and possessions really the only defining legacy we aspire to leave? Why do some families fall apart when a family member dies, while others are brought closer together? How can we develop closer, sustainable ties so that our families can share ongoing access to strength, wisdom and inspiration? It’s important to understand the common, preventable types of conflict that surface in the midst of the already-stressful period of grieving. If planning success is measured by the impact it has on the lives of those left behind, does traditional estate planning alone really meet the needs of most families? Judging by the confusion, conflict and pain we so often see, we know that traditional estate planning is always not enough.
If you’re reading this page, you’re probably looking for something more than what traditional estate planning has to offer. You may see that your family is headed towards conflict, or you might already be in the midst of a heated battle with no resolution in sight. Alternatively, if your family is thriving, you may sense that there’s another level of connection, meaning and joy that you haven’t tapped into yet. In either case, the answer doesn’t lie in a fancy new trust or in seeking to control every eventuality from beyond the grave. In fact, despite what most of us have come to believe, it doesn’t lie in documents at all. It lies in the people left behind. Although we don’t usually address the all-important human element of estate planning, it trumps money over time, and ultimately determines the success or failure of our legacies. We know in our hearts this is true, but most of us don’t even want to go there. We wouldn’t know where to start, and the thought of dealing with family dynamics often feels overwhelming and hopeless. Death and generational transitions are the hardest times most of us will ever face. Yet too often, we’re alone in this journey. We need help with personal, financial and legal questions. We need to find resilience and meaning in our grief. We’re not meant to do it alone, but tragically, it’s often where we find ourselves in the midst of the struggle.
Yet there is hope.
My name is Peter Johnson, and as a member of the third generation of a family that failed to successfully pass wealth on, I’ve seen how financial wealth alone doesn’t guarantee any measure of success, happiness or fulfillment for younger generations. In fact, wealth can exacerbate conflict and stress, and lead to what I call a Shadow Legacy© of confusion, conflict and isolation that ripples through generational relationships and over time. However, as part of my work as a financial planner over the past 30+ years, I’ve been blessed to find answers, and to connect with a number of remarkable pioneers blazing a trail toward family healing, connection and abundance.
After many years of research and hard work, I’ve learned:
- That despite common belief and practice, there are structures and processes that can effectively bring families together to work out estate issues respectfully;
- That an outside influence is often needed to address family power struggles, at least initially;
- That the rewards and value of this work are truly priceless;
- The benefits extend to others, and create sustainable, vibrant legacies;
- How to tap into and utilize the talents of a variety of world-class experts from multiple disciplines to handle almost any need or challenge a family may be facing;
- How impactful generational mentoring can be;
- How families can reclaim the joy and strength that may be found in building connection with those they’re closest to.
As you reflect on your family, consider what you truly want for them. Do you wish they knew what lessons you’ve learned? Do you hope that they have the resilience to handle life’s challenges? Have you thought about how much you’ll be missed? Have you wished you could have deep, meaningful conversations, instead of grabbing rushed opportunities to say what’s in your heart? Do you suspect they might have messages for you? Do you have any idea how powerful and impactful family connection, and your contribution, can be?
Contact us today to discover what may be possible for your family’s future. We’ll respond with heart, expert resources and a commitment to make all the difference in the world for you and your loved ones. There’s no cost or obligation for a one-on-one, personalized conversation with an expert.
The benefits ripple out. Think what this could mean for your family, their descendants, the larger community, and yes, you.
We’re all ancestors in training. What legacy will you leave?
For more information:
Peter W. Johnson, Jr.
* Our work builds on and complements traditional estate planning. It does not replace it. We always recommend that you seek the services and advice of a competent attorney who specializes in estate and trust work.