Communicate Your Family Legacy — Susan Schoenfeld

Inspiration And Insights
3 min readJun 5, 2024


Image by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash

Susan R. Schoenfeld, CEO and Founder of Wealth Legacy Advisors LLC, serves as a ‘thought partner’ to families of wealth through personal attention and human spirit. Susan is an award-winning Thought Leader; she provides guidance on legacy, next-generation, stewardship, governance, leadership succession, and philanthropy. She recently spoke on Family Office Structures at Opal Group’s Family Office Forum in New York City.

My favorite quote on the topic of family legacy is from George Bernard Shaw, who said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Many parents tell me that they believe that their kids have no idea about their family’s wealth. I often respond that nonverbally, the parents have often communicated much more than they think they have. Children watch their parents for nonverbal cues; how you live, how you travel, the relative size and location of your home, even the schools your children attend, will communicate volumes to your children.

In some cases, the parents have communicated a lot less than they might think they have. That is when children might turn to the internet for research. It will likely turn up information about your home’s value, your level of support for charitable causes, and a host of additional data that you might not even realize is publicly available.

Rather than passively allowing this information to dribble in to your family unfiltered and without context, I advise taking charge of the situation and being thoughtful and intentional about communicating your family’s values, culture and legacy with your children.

This does not mean that I advocate for baring your family’s balance sheet, especially if your kids are not yet developmentally ready to receive this information. What is does mean is that, in age-appropriate ways, I suggest that you begin talking to your kids about your family’s wealth, how it was produced, and discussing the themes, values and sacrifices that led to its creation and growth.

My watchword is to open up the lines of communication, and be intentional about that communication. Think about what you are communicating both verbally and non-verbally to your children and grandchildren, and encourage a culture of greater communication.

Susan Schoenfeld, a public speaker & thought partner to families of wealth and their advisors, is an award-winning thought leader. Susan’s switch from successful estate planning attorney and CPA to a trusted family advisor and thought partner was inspired by families of wealth asking her searching questions beyond estate tax planning. As a conflict-free advisor who provides no investment, tax, or legal advice and sells no product, Susan shares her insights directly with wealthy families and with financial services experts. She is active as a keynote speaker and a leader of break-out sessions and workshops at conferences throughout the US.

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