Sound Advice from Eric Brotman

October 23, 2017

Sound Advice is a charitably-minded series from BCF by professional advisors in Baltimore. Do you have advice to share with colleagues? Contact Rosemary Calderalo today.

Eric D. Brotman, CFP®, AEP®, CPWA® is President and Managing Principal of Brotman Financial Group, Inc., an independent firm assisting clients with wealth creation, preservation, and distribution.

In working with several hundred families over the past 24 years as a financial advisor, I have come to appreciate the value of giving – not just gifts to heirs, but also the gifts that include philanthropy and create legacies. So many families believe that they are “not wealthy enough” to make meaningful charitable gifts or to create true legacies for their family members. And yet, I believe there are many kinds of gifts – and many kinds of wealth. The greatest gifts one can leave for their children and grandchildren are legacy and influence, and neither requires significant wealth to accomplish.

Legacy

The gift of legacy is comprised of the stories, values, and histories that can be shared with every family member.  

When a loved one dies, usually a part of their history dies with them – simply because their stories aren’t memorialized in writing or on video.  What do we really know about our grandparents, great-grandparents, or even earlier relatives? While legacy can be as simple as a family tree and some written history, I believe the most powerful way to create legacy is on video – captured before a loved one dies. 

As a part of the financial planning process, our firm talks about multi-generational planning from a financial, but also a non-financial, standpoint. There are lots of ways you can capture your family’s story on video, from a simple smartphone video all the way up to a professionally-produced work. My firm, for example, partners with Acknowledge Media, a Baltimore-based company, which specializes in the production and storage of professionally made videos which allow loved ones to tell their stories – about growing up, about their own parents and grandparents, their education, their careers, their families, and their values. These videos are not inexpensive, but the results are priceless. I had Acknowledge Media do videos for each of my parents, but what I wouldn’t give also to have them for my grandparents who died decades ago.

Influence

The gift of influence involves some form of meaningful, often posthumous, charitable giving and can not only teach your children and grandchildren about money, but can also provide opportunities for their lifetimes. An organization like the Baltimore Community Foundation can provide the resources needed to make a perpetual gift – of real estate, life insurance, or current assets – during your lifetime or once you are deceased.  

The “influence” comes from naming your children and/or grandchildren as the responsible parties for making the charitable donations from the funds each year. Not only does your legacy provide the community with needed resources, but through their participation in the charitable giving process, your heirs can learn just how important and powerful charitable giving can be for the community.

No doubt, Hollywood has done us a disservice with their portrayals of will readings in the movies. It isn’t the money, or the “stuff” that matters. It’s the legacy and the influence that make a difference eternally – for the family and for the communities in which we all live and work.

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