The “Why” of a Family Office — Susan Schoenfeld

3 min readMay 1, 2024
Image by getrodeo on Unsplash

Susan R. Schoenfeld, CEO and Founder of Wealth Legacy Advisors LLC, serves as a ‘thought partner’ to families of wealth through personal attention and human spirit. Susan is an award-winning Thought Leader; she guides legacy, next-generation, stewardship, governance, leadership succession, and philanthropy. She recently spoke on Family Office Structures at Opal Group’s Family Office Forum.

The notion of Legacy in a family is the most critical “Why” for families setting up a family office. Why is your family establishing a family office, and what is the legacy of your family that your family office will support?

Reflect on these questions:

· What is your family legacy?

· What is your family story?

· What does it mean to be a member of your family?

· What does your family stand for, both internally to incoming members of the family, whether by marriage or by birth and rising generation, or to the outside world, especially if you’re a family that has a known presence?

· What do you want your family members to think of as your family identity?

· What do you want the world to know about you as a family, to think of as your family identity?

I like to approach this subject by helping the family craft their family story in a mindful, considered way, rather than simply allowing it to evolve haphazardly over time. The ability to tell a consistent family story that reflects the family’s values, culture and legacy in a clear, cogent and repeatable fashion is a gift to the future generations of your family. Engaging in a values exercise is a critical piece, for the family to examine, identify and perpetuate its core values.

In thinking about the “Why” of establishing your family office, it is much more than just estate planning and gifting, investment roll-up reporting, and tax planning.

At its best, establishing a family office is all about setting the stage and establishing a framework for the rising generation and the generations that hopefully come after them to be competent and confident stewards of their wealth.

Susan Schoenfeld, a public speaker & thought partner to families of wealth and their advisors, is an award-winning thought leader. Susan’s switch from successful estate planning attorney and CPA to a trusted family advisor and thought partner was inspired by families of wealth asking her searching questions beyond estate tax planning. As a conflict-free advisor who provides no investment, tax, or legal advice and sells no product, Susan shares her insights directly with wealthy families and with their professional advisors. She is active as a keynote speaker and a leader of break-out sessions and workshops at conferences throughout the US.

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