A House / Home Metaphor for Family Legacy

Probably NOT What You’re Thinking Though

This week we’re looking at a metaphor that came into my head a couple of months ago, and that’s been on the back burner of my mind ever since.

I’ve been trying out different versions of it, and kept on returning it for more simmering, because it didn’t seem ready yet.

I hope it’ll finally be tasty enough for consumption now, and also nourishing.


The Cottage by the Water

I purchased a few acres of land on a river about 10 years ago, with the goal of eventually constructing a summer home there.

As it turned out, there’s a “pre-fab home” manufacturing plant nearby, “Kane Homes”, and so I eventually decided to check them out, took a plant tour, and was instantly sold.

“When we’re ready, I want to order our house there”, I told my wife.

So a few years later, we dropped in for a visit, assuming that we could order our house from the factory.

Nope, that isn’t how it works, we were told.


Metaphor Preview…

Before I lose you in this story, I want to give you the equivalent of that visit to the house factory in my parable about a family who wants to make sure that they succeed in creating and preserving their family legacy.

My normal blog topics deal with families who are concerned with transitioning their wealth from one generation to the next.

One thing that I often lament is that many such families, when they decide that they need to take some action to achieve that goal, will contact an attorney and make an appointment to discuss their estate plan.

While the house factory quickly dispatched us to an appropriate avenue to order our home, most lawyers are only too happy to begin writing up the estate documents at the family’s request.


There’s a Lot More to a Home than the House

Back to the house purchase.  Kane Homes directed us to one of their dealers instead, “Sullivan Homes”.

OK, so just like you don’t go to GM to order your car, we had gone to the wrong place first.

The good folks at Sullivan Homes didn’t want to simply sell us a factory-made house, they were interested in helping us construct our dream home.

They were the ones who were going to take care of pouring the foundation, drilling the well, putting in the septic system, bringing in the electricity, and even making sure our long driveway was wide enough to bring in the house on two giant trailers.


The Work that Nobody Sees

When you arrive at our place now, the main thing that you see is still the house that was built in the factory, but without the foundation, septic system, water, and power, it certainly would not be as useful or comfortable!

In a similar way, yes, you surely will need a qualified attorney to properly write up the legal paperwork to make sure that what you want to happen is properly and legally captured.

And, if you are proactive, you will also engage with the right people to make sure that everything else works the way you want it to.

Kane sells a standard house to anyone who wants one, but thankfully they only do so while working through one of their dealers who makes sure that everything fits and works for the family who buys one.


Process Versus Content

My analogy is admittedly a bit of a clumsy one, especially as I now pivot to the process versus content part.

The factory-built house is the key piece of content which involved a lot of man-hours to complete, but the work that was done on site, was done by various specialists who did everything that was needed to make sure the house actually “worked” for us.

That work was much more about process, and it involves the flow of water and power into the house, as well as drainage out of the house.


An Estate Plan is Great, But Not Sufficient

If you’ve decided that you want to ensure that everything you’ve worked for all your life gets properly passed down to the next generation of your family, then you’ve got work to do.

If you think that a visit to an estate planning attorney will take care of it all, then you are mistaken.

Many of those other things are discussed in other blogs here, so please, help yourself!