Friend and colleague Hartley Goldstone was recently interviewed for Family Wealth Report about his new book Family Trusts: A Guide for Beneficiaries, Trustees, Trust Protectors and Trust Creators coauthored with Jay Hughes and Keith Whitaker. From the interview conducted by family office consultant Joe Reilly:
Joe Reilly: In Family Trusts, it is mentioned that most beneficiaries, an overwhelming majority in fact, believe their trusts are a burden. Why do you think that is?
Hartley Goldstone: It comes from being wedded to a predominantly negative view of trusts. Let me explain. Much of my work is helping trustees and beneficiaries develop productive relationships. If early on I simply ask: "What’s a trust?" The most common responses are - in so many words - that a trust is primarily a receptacle to hold assets, or a tax strategy, or a legal document. That view amounts to a trust being experienced as a transaction, rather than as a gift having “spirit.”
We stress in Family Trusts that first and foremost trusts are human relationships. And that the highest purpose of a trust is to enhance the lives of the beneficiaries. In this context, "enhance" means that a trust is seen as a relationship between beneficiary and trustee that supports the beneficiary’s maturity and independence. Contrast that with lifestyle “subsidies,” which can have the opposite effect. Agreement on the “human relationship” and “enhancement” principles is an important step toward re-framing a trust from being seen as a burden, to being seen as the gift of an amazing resource.
Joe Reilly: How do you deal with resistance from benefactors who would like a more heavy hand?
Click to read the whole interview.