My biggest group of clients have assets between $5 million and $20 million. They seem to own 500 to 1,500 acres and most have scratched and clawed most of their life, earning money and accumulating assets the good old fashion way. They are really passionate about their farm and transferring assets to the next generation.
I also have a bunch of clients with assets between $20 million and $50 million. Most of them have 2,000 to 5,000 acres. Most of them have worked hard and but some have had some things in life “fall into place.”
I have a client with a net worth of $380 million. I was introduced to him and five minutes after meeting him he showed me a one-page balance sheet. I remember thinking that was a pretty big number. He was really a good guy, and we had some enjoyable meetings.
This article is not about anyone listed in the categories above. This is about one of my wealthiest clients who just died. Oh no, her balance sheet was not nearly as massive as anything mentioned above, but she was golden. From the first time I met her and her husband years ago, I thought they had to be some of the kindest, most sincere, hardest working people I had ever met. Several years ago, I was saddened to hear of his passing. I helped her through that estate closing process. I am sure that losing a husband made her sad, but she was very “matter of fact” and she just kept moving along in life, never requesting sympathy.
Her list of monetary assets was a comfortable list of assets that served her well, but I am pretty sure she was living on her Social Security check until moving into a senior living facility her last few years.
Her true wealth was in the assets that did not have a dollar sign by them. Here is her list of “other” assets:
Kind: I don’t ever remember her having an angry word to say about anyone.
Humble: She had everything she needed, but she would never be proud or haughty.
Honest: Her life was transparent, and the truth was always told.
Thankful: She was so thankful for everything she and her husband had accumulated and she was even thankful for the opportunity to work and stay home to raise her children. Sometimes she would request me to help with something and regardless of how small her request was, she was always thankful.
Organized: She always had her very neat, well-written list of assets and where everything was and how everything was invested. She thoughtfully had a list of questions ready each time we met or talked on the phone.
Fun: There was always something to smile or laugh about just a little bit. She was not a big joke teller, just always a little bit witty about something.
Backbone: She had a backbone! Never coarse, arrogant, or bull-headed, but she certainly knew where she stood and what her values were.
Children: I did not know all of her children, but the ones I know have many of her same golden qualities. They respected her and honored her greatly, which was a clear reflection of how they had been raised.
Eternal: She certainly knew where her true treasures were stored up.
Now we will put together a list of assets that have a dollar sign by them for the attorney and her estate will be closed, but she will leave behind a list of assets far greater than those with a dollar sign for her family and others to remember. How are you coming on the list of assets you will leave behind without a dollar sign?
Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.