Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Estates & Wills & Trusts, Tax

Team approach key to family wealth protection, management

Given the increasingly complex nature of the investment marketplace, an all-inclusive approach, featuring an integrated team of professionals, is likely the best strategy when it comes to creating opportunities for families or individuals who wish to manage and pass on their wealth, Calgary tax and fiduciary services lawyer Dennis Nerland tells AdvocateDaily.com.

As Nerland, a founding partner of Shea Nerland Law and leader of the firm's tax and estate planning practice, explains, “Jurisdictional rules, foreign law, cross-border and governmental processes and procedures, and the tax implications of investment decisions have all meant that the investor has to be more knowledgeable, experienced and ‘world aware’ about where and for how long they place their funds,” he adds.

As such, by using the skills and knowledge of lawyers, accountants, financial planners, brokers, fund managers and even psychologists and communication specialists, Nerland says an integrated and harmonized strategy can be designed around a family or individual’s goals, leading to a focused result while limiting risk, expense, time, resources and contradictory approaches.

Within this team, a lawyer’s role in assisting a family in wealth management is varied and often complex.

“They act as advisors, advocates, educators, and negotiators. They advise on business decisions and processes, analyzing opportunities and providing input on the implications of decisions and investments. They assist in ensuring proper steps are taken to protect assets and opportunities,” says Nerland.

The first step in ensuring all team members come together to achieve the goal of wealth protection and management is to develop a comprehensive family plan, which becomes the foundation for future decisions and planning, explains Nerland.

“This plan may include an investment strategy and ‘family constitution,’ which sets out the guiding principles, governance polices, rights and responsibilities, expectations, and goals of family members. The plan is developed after a careful and complete review of a family’s financial situation, analysis of current needs and future goals.”

Once those parameters are known, Nerland says the team will then be able to assist in implementing the plan with a unified purpose and direction, while conducting ongoing reviews and assessments. The team will also have the ability to make informed changes, if circumstances require it, he adds.

Ultimately, says Nerland, the business of managing wealth has changed over the last number of years from that of a profit-driven model to one of a service-oriented mindset.

“People want to know who they are trusting with their assets and future wealth. Advisors need to know their clients beyond the funds they manage. They need to understand a family’s goals, needs and values. This is only achieved through individual relationships and the desire to help — to serve.”

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