When The Blum Firm reached our 40th anniversary in late 2020, I was searching for a way to commemorate it. My law practice had always focused on tax and estate planning, but in the prior decade I had adopted a passion for also helping families create and pass down a meaningful legacy. My goal was to not only prepare the money for the family (passing down the largest possible inheritance), but to also prepare the family for the money (preparing heirs to receive that inheritance). I also began to understand that an inheritance is about a lot more than money. Families pass down not only their financial capital, but also their human, social, intellectual, and spiritual capitals. To celebrate the firm’s 40th, I decided to write a weekly series on Family Legacy Planning to offer tips on how to create family glue, improving the odds of multigenerational success.
When I launched this project, I anticipated telling everything I knew about legacy planning over the course of several weeks. Well, here we are 100 posts later, and I’m still writing. The feedback I’ve received has been immensely gratifying. Each week, I receive encouragement to share more, in particular personal stories from my own life journey. I never expected this blog to take off the way it has, but I am grateful to be reaching this 100th milestone.
In selecting a topic for today’s post, I’m channeling one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, whose Poor Richard’s Almanac became a site for him to offer some good old-fashioned advice for better living. Like everyone, I’ve accumulated a collection of my own words of wisdom. At the urging of a number of you, and inspired by Father Ben, I’ll share some random lessons in life that I hold dear. I’m careful not to push my advice on someone unless they sincerely want it, which brings me to my first piece of advice:
- From an old “Dear Abby” column: Before you offer someone advice, first ask them if they want it. Unless they respond with an enthusiastic yes, the answer is no.
- From my wife: Take the high road. (Sometimes we ask her where that is, and she always helps us find it.)
- From my mother: The most important decision you make in life is who you marry. (I’m glad I listened!)
- From my father: The only helping hand you need is the one at the end of your own arm.
- From my son: Work smart, not just hard.
- From my daughter (the family historian): If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen.
- From my mother-in-law (always on the go doing “good turns” for others): Don’t go to bed at night until you’ve done at least one good turn that day.
- From my father-in-law: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
- From my former long-time assistant Mary Staudt: Pay attention to the signs. When someone tells you who they are, you should believe them– the first time.
- From my best friend Talmage Boston: Ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is they say no, but they might say yes.
- From a relative Donald Adler about family trips: Remember, it’s everyone’s vacation.
- Two from my friend Bruce Moon’s mother: (1) Time speeds up; (2) It’s always something. (Isn’t that the truth!)
- From a dear departed friend Anne Marie Hartsell: When you get upset, remember the “100-year theory.” Ask yourself: Will this matter in 100 years?
- Marvin’s famous three: (1) Take a light courseload your first semester of college so you don’t dig a hole in your GPA; (2) Wedding planning is a recipe for friction, so the shorter the engagement, the better; (3) It’s never the “right time” to get married, have a baby, or start a business. You just have to do it.
- I’ll wrap up with a favorite from Ben Franklin, which totally speaks to where my life is now: A true friend is the best possession.
I could go on and on, but I’ll close on that high note. This is just a random list that came to my mind today. I welcome hearing your favorite sayings so I can add them to my collection.
I dedicate these first 100 posts to all of you, whose encouragement has inspired me to keep writing. Many of you have even urged me to write a book on legacy planning. Maybe I’ll tackle that one day. In the meantime, I’ll try to keep these lessons coming ‘till my brain hits empty.
Marvin E. Blum
Marvin Blum uses today’s post to offer words of wisdom, channeling Ben Franklin whose Poor Richard’s Almanac offered plenty of good old-fashioned advice.