“9 out of 10 women will be responsible for their own
or their family’s finances at some point.”
Matriarch is an old-fashioned word that is rarely used anymore. In the past, the matriarch was depicted as a bent-shouldered, gray haired woman standing next to the patriarch. She was responsible for Sunday dinners, establishing family traditions and providing emotional support for young family members.
While these roles are noble endeavors, a woman’s role in society has drastically expanded and changed. It is hard to believe, but it’s been less than 100 years since women earned the right to vote in the United States. Tennessee ratified the Nineteenth Amendment on August 18, 1920 and for the first time a nation of women participated in the election of the 29th President of the United States, Warren G. Harding.
On days when it seems like women’s rights are stagnant, or shrinking, women are taking a stand and banding together in new ways. Women are making great strides for equal pay and equal treatment on a global scale. But, what about the home front? Are women embracing their full potential as family leaders?
Allow me to introduce the matriarch. According to the online Merriam-Webster.com dictionary, matriarch is a noun used to describe a woman who rules or dominates a family, group, or state, specifically: a mother who is head and ruler of her family and descendants.
Now, more than ever before, it’s time for women to step into their role as the family leader. According to a Women’s Quick Fasts: Compelling Data on Why Women Matter. an eBook published by STEMconnector ®,
Unfortunately, women’s confidence in managing their finances is low. A USNews article from March 4, 2015 reports that 4 out of 5 women said they avoided talking about finances with someone they’re close to because the topic is too personal, or it feels uncomfortable to discuss. The article was based on a Fidelity survey of 1,542 adult women who also reported:
- 92% of respondents wanted to learn more about financial planning
- 83% said they wanted to be more involved in their finances, but were uncomfortable talking about money (this included financial advisors)
For families to thrive, women need to step into their role as matriarch, which includes the ability to manage the family’s finances. They need to learn the necessary skills to grow and protect the family’s financial house because we are in the midst of the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind. As the remaining older generations and Baby Boomers pass away, an estimated 30 TRILLION dollars will transfer to the next generation. In addition to this generational wealth transfer, women tend to outlive men. Women who lack the skills to manage their own money make a difficult time, even more difficult. Becoming a confident financial manager is a gift you give yourself that pays dividends to your family.
What about you? If you were “suddenly” put in charge of your family’s financial assets, are you confident in your ability to protect, invest, and manage your portfolio? If you were to receive an inheritance, do you have a team of trusted advisors in place who can assist you?
The statistics for failed inheritances are staggering. Up to 90% of wealth transfers fail, when failure is measured by broken relationships, loss of assets and unnecessary upheaval. Odds are, you’ve seen it. Either in your family or heard about from a friend.
If you are wondering how this can be real, please consider that death and money remain taboo topics. Over 50% of Americans don’t have a will, and for women the number is even higher. Avoiding the unavoidable creates havoc that can destroy a family.
After a family member passes, the seats at the holiday table remain empty, affluenza and legal battles destroy the family’s financial strength, and family members refuse to speak to each other. Look at Prince. He died without a will. Now attorneys are enjoying the fruits of his labor while his family fights over his legacy.
Family breaks between siblings can cast a wide rift that affects multiple generations. Believe me, I know. One of my brothers has never met my grandchildren, and my children haven’t been invited to their cousin’s upcoming wedding.
In 2005, my parents passed away eight months apart. It doesn’t matter how old you are when it happens, becoming an orphan at any age is painful. Losing my parents so close together was terrible. But even more horrific was my inability to stop the destruction of our family. We ended up in legal and emotional battles that have yet to fully heal. Although my parents had an elaborate legal and tax plan, no one taught us how to carry out our parent’s final decisions or prepared us to accept our inheritance.
A few years later, I became a grandmother. It was time to let go of feeling like an orphan and step into my role as the matriarch. Accepting my mantle of leadership meant I needed to find a way to protect my growing family’s future. I wondered, “Who is successful at transferring wealth?” “What do they do differently?”
To find the answers, I researched successful family wealth transfers and discovered a little-known estate planning tool called Legacy Family Planning. Until I started the Legacy Family Revolution, Legacy Family Planning had been reserved for ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) families. My passion for helping families was born from the pain I suffered after my parents passed away. You don’t have to be an UHNW family to enjoy the benefits of Legacy Family Planning.
Although my grandchildren never met my parents, the know who they were and what was important to them. By keeping my parent’s pictures on the wall, and talking about their values, accomplishments, and failures, my grandchildren are learning valuable lessons. Lessons they can use to build their own successful life. My parent’s legacy continues.
Instead of consuming my inheritance, I became the steward my parent’s financial assets. Now, I’m teaching my daughters how to do the same. We have a shared vision of creating financial resources to benefit my grandchildren’s grandchildren. Who knows, perhaps my daughters will train their daughters to impact more generations. Together, we are ensuring that my parents’ legacy continues. Such is the power of the matriarch.
The following steps will help you grow into your role as the matriarch of your family.
1. Make the Decision
You don’t become the matriarch by accident, you must decide. Discover the “why” behind your decision so that you can overcome challenges when they happen. And, they will. Write down your “why” and keep it close to your heart.
2. Become Financially Savvy
Become a financial ninja. Understand your balance sheet. Take charge of your finances. Experience is a wonderful teacher. Ask for help. Get a will. If you already have one, is it time to review it? Create a team of trusted advisors. Are the beneficiaries on all policies and accounts accurate? Don’t be one of those horror stories where the ex-wife gets the life insurance proceeds because no one thought to update the policy.
3. Get Organized
Make sure your files, both digital and paper, are in order. Do you have access to all your accounts? Where are the passwords? Create a Legacy File by putting all your important documents in a safe place. Our legacy file is a four-drawer fireproof safe. Communicate with your family and tell them about your Legacy File.
4. Address Difficult Topics
Don’t hope that unpleasant situations will go away. Matriarchs address problems, they don’t ignore them. If you know that a family member is suffering from drug addiction, domestic violence, or mental illness, get professional help. Hope is not a strategy that works.
5. Discover what you don’t know
It’s not what we know that hurts us, it’s what we don’t know what we don’t know. My parents set up a traditional estate plan but didn’t know about Legacy Family Planning. What they didn’t know destroyed our family. Be diligent in your search to discover what you don’t know.
6. Make every moment count
Time is a non-renewable resource. When you have the courage to face your own mortality, to prepare and plan for it, you open the door for making the rest of your life the best of your life. Have fun. Create memories. Experience life. Live your legacy. Matriarchs turn ordinary moments into extraordinary moments.
What is your vision for your family? Determine what’s best for your family’s future and put a plan in place to make it come true. Once you have made the decision to accept the mantle of leadership empower yourself. You are the matriarch.
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