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Our Story

For over four decades, The Williams Group has been at the forefront of coaching high net worth families through the often turbulent process of successfully transferring wealth to the next generation. They've written books and articles on the subject, drawing from their vast wealth of knowledge, decades of first-hand experience, groundbreaking family interviews, and strong sense of family values. They are frequently asked to speak at seminars and family events on topics about the impact of family dynamics on successful wealth transition. Their time-tested approach to Post-Transition Estate Planning® for families of wealth has a remarkable success rate approaching 100%. In other words, The Williams Group families retain control of their assets post-transition, whereas, families who go it alone have about a one-in-three chance for success.

The Williams Group does not replace the services of legal, tax and other wealth advisors; it complements those services by addressing the soft-side issues of wealth transition, such as trust and communication among family members, family wealth mission, and roles of heirs.

Our Legacy

In 2009, Roy and Vic co-founded the Institute for Preparing Heirs with Diane Doolin, a wealth management advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Together, they recognized the educational value to wealth advisors of understanding the non-financial impacts of wealth transfer on families of wealth. The Institute for Preparing Heirs was formed to build upon the life's work of The Williams Group for the benefit of countless more families in transition and to profoundly impact future generations through education that instills action.

Preparing Heirs…the missing link in estate planning

Through The Williams Group's long experience working with families, they came to realize that traditional wealth management and estate planning focuses primarily on transferring wealth, minimizing taxes, and defining ownership and control. What has been missing from wealth transfer planning is a comprehensive discussion on whether the heirs are ready to receive and manage the assets they will inherit. The subject of preparing heirs for the responsibility of wealth has been largely overlooked. Without in-depth preparation of heirs, estate planning is only partially complete. Read "The Future of Estate Planning" (Trusts & Estates magazine, June 2010).

Our Research

Conducted over a 20-year period, Roy Williams and his associates interviewed 2,250 families who actually went through the estate planning and wealth transfer processes. The interviews revealed that 70% of the families lost control of their assets and family harmony in the first generation following wealth transfer. That means only one family in three retained its assets and family unity. The interviews also revealed that the major causes of post-transition failure were discovered to lie within the family itself, and not as a result of poor professional advice.

Causes Underlying Wealth Transfer Failures

The single most important issue that undermines successful transfers of family wealth is the breakdown in trust and communication among family members.

The interviews also revealed that families who successfully transition wealth while maintaining strong family unity share several critical traits:

  • Total family involvement in the estate planning discussion and process (including spouses, and children and grandchildren over age 16)
  • Shared family vision of long-term family goals in a written Family Mission statement
  • High level of trust and communication among all family members


How To Tell If Your Family Is At Risk?

Whether a family or individual is transitioning a business or assets, now is the time to ask yourself:

  • How sound is our wealth transition plan?
  • How well prepared are my heirs to retain control post-estate transition?

Our experience has shown that full family involvement in the wealth transfer planning process is critical to success. Families must have the willingness to invest time and energy into learning how to work as a team to preserve their wealth and harmony. The Williams Group's skilled family coaches can facilitate this process.


As a result of family interviews, Roy was able to identify the key major differences between those families who retained their assets and family unity post-transition and those families who did not. Those key differences serve as the basis for the 10 questions in our Wealth Transition Checklist, and our more comprehensive 50-question Family Readiness Assessment. Families who utilize these tools are able to compare their family's responses to our interview group of families. The results will gauge the heirs' readiness for wealth transfer and pinpoint areas of concern.

About the Wealth Transition Checklist: This preliminary checklist evaluates the odds by comparing a family to thousands of families who have transitioned before. This 10-question Checklist is typically completed by one family member. It takes about three minutes, and is almost 80% accurate in predicting how the next generation will fare after the estate transitions. It is intended as a "quick read" on the family's readiness for transition. Take the Checklist.

About the Family Readiness Assessment: If your family's score on the Wealth Transition Checklist raises interest or you simply want to more fully assess your entire family's level of readiness, all family members may participate in our more comprehensive Family Readiness Assessment. The written report boasts a 90% accuracy rate and pinpoints areas of specific weakness within the family's preparations for estate transition. All responses are, of course, confidential even to other family members.

  • Every family member completes a 50-question anonymous and confidential questionnaire including spouses and children/grandchildren over age 16
  • Responses are compared with 2,250 families in our proprietary research database
  • Three critical areas essential for successful wealth transfer: trust and communication levels, heir preparedness and clarity of the mission for the family's wealth are carefully measured
  • A detailed written report provides individual results and specific recommendations for action contained in a detailed written report


Once the Family Readiness Assessment report is presented to your family, they have a clear sense of action in hand, your family may be ready to begin to make essential changes that will lead to the successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Read actual family success stories and how the results of the Family Readiness Assessment helped prepare these families for action. Learn more about the Family Readiness Assessment.

The Ganahl Family Story

Working With The Williams Group.

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Book Store

Preparing Heirs, Philanthropy Heirs & Values

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Trust & Estates

The Future of Estate Planning.

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New York Times

What to Tell Children About Their Bequest.

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Stanford Business Journal

Building Successful Estate Plans.

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