Amy & Dan Smith's Planning for Life: Investing in the Family Stock

Family relationships are usually not considered under the rubric of “investments”.  Yet, the personal gain and loss from family relationships is much more significant than economic return from stocks and bonds.

Taking time out to relate to a person without a self-promoting agenda is counter-cultural, yet such an investment of time in the younger generation can demonstrate an alternative to the current social paradigm, and create a rich, personal reward.  Think of an aunt, uncle or grandparent who stands out in your memory.  I bet the image is not one of a super-producer who accomplished great feats in the marketplace.  Rather, those who touch us most deeply are those who take time to care for us on a personal level.

Consider the grandparent who has some time and a little money to invest.  What would be the return on the investment of bringing family together for a few days at a retreat facility or beach house?  Or taking a grandchild or two for a weekend in D.C. or N.Y.?

Which creates greater value in the long term: A few thousand dollars contributed to a 529 Plan, or the same amount spent for a special outing with parent/grandparent and child? Investing in a memory bank can produce a lifelong return.

As one who has practiced law for four decades, dealing with families and estate planning, I can say without hesitation that the richest clients who come through our offices are those who have invested wisely in developing close personal relationships, especially within the family. Such folks have more wealth than those with huge financial net worth figures.  A legacy of treasured memories is a rich heritage.

As we begin a new year, it might be wise to consider how we might maximize our family ties. Time, energy and even money invested can produce great dividends in the long term.

From "Amy & Dan Smith's Planning for Life" column appearing monthly in the Blue Ridge Leader, Loudoun County, VA.

The foregoing article contains general legal information only and is not intended to convey legal advice.  For legal advice regarding estate planning, the reader should contact his/her lawyer.

Daniel D. Smith is a partner in the law firm of Smith & Pugh, PLC, 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (Tel: 703-777-6084, He has practiced law in Loudoun County since 1980.