Remember the story of King Midas, who wished that everything he touched would turn to gold? It was a blessing – until his daughter greeted him with a hug, and turned to gold, as well. In Beating the Midas Curse, two planned-giving professionals, Perry Cochell and Rodney Zeeb, say that the most important legacy people want to leave their loved ones is not their “gold” (money and assets), but “a clear vision for the future” powered by their values. If planned giving makes our children and grandchildren wealthy but fractures the family, it has defeated its purpose.

For hundreds of years, estate planning has focused almost exclusively on financial inheritances, the authors say, but we have missed a far more powerful and meaningful inheritance than money – the emotional inheritance we receive over our lifetime from family members, friends, teachers, leaders, and others who have been significant in our lives. “Money is still important,” they say, “but only in its function as a resource to help perpetuate the values that will keep the family strong and prosperous for generations.”

In Beating the Midas Curse, Cochell and Zeeb propose a dynamic process that develops both an emotional side as well as a financial one. It includes the older generation sharing how they made their money (including their work ethic, family history, and sacrifice), and developing a transition plan to get the kids on board about how to use money wisely. After values assessment of both the parents and their intended beneficiaries, they establish a family bank, make decisions together as a family council, and participate together in family philanthropy. Thus family-values planning develops alongside the financial estate planning of a will and trust, final instructions, and powers of attorney.

Beating the Midas Curse is a refreshing book written in an engaging, accessible style. It takes a new angle on how planned giving can be a significant family affair that builds good stewards in the process.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

See also:Estate Planning