Including the Influencers in Estate Planning

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2019 | couples' estate planning, estate and tax planning, Estate Planning

National negotiation training company founder Marty Latz is a person every estate planning client ought to meet. While most of his consulting clients are corporations negotiating with their employees and vendors, the following question discussed just last month in Latz’ blog is especially relevant to anyone creating a complex estate plan:

What can you do when someone not directly involved in the negotiation – a client’s spouse, silent partner, neighbor, outside advisor, or just a friend or colleague – weighs in and plays a counterproductive role?

Substitute “estate planning process” for “negotiation”, and the question becomes one our attorneys at Geyer Law see as important in our own work every day, as our clients wrestle with the many decisions involving their own finances, charitable interests,and children.

Latz’ simple two part recommendation for avoiding “wrenches” thrown into a decision-making process is a great one:

1. Identify influencers’ interests.“Identify early on all possible parties that might have an impact on the negotiation and the decision-makers. Be over-inclusive. It may not appear that a person’s opinion might matter. But their later thoughts could make the difference between a deal or no deal,” Latz explains.

2: Consider involving those influencers in the process. Influencers or stakeholders can be involved in either or both: the strategic planning process and the actual negotiation. Informal opportunities also exist, like a periodic call or email to bring them up-to-speed on the negotiations, Latz advises.

One scenario Latz describes might have been recorded in our own Geyer Law offices

                  A client who built her business from the ground up now wants to sell and
                  take a big equity interest and play a big formal role in the new company.
                  Her spouse has a more conservative approach to risk and money and wants
                  her to cash out and spend more time with their family.

Even when business succession is not involved, estate planning in itself is a ”negotiation”, a process of choosing among alternatives, of communicating one’s values, and providing opportunities for the next generation. Even when a single person is the one planning his or her estate, outside influencers can help or hinder the decision-making process. At Geyer Law, we encourage parents to invite their children to be part of the discussions they have with our attorneys.

Latz’ recommendation: Take control of their influence by incorporating them into your strategic process. At Rebecca W Geyer & Associates, we couldn’t agree more.

– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team