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The Cycle of the Gift: Family Wealth and Wisdom by Keith Whitaker, Susan E. Massenzio, James E. Hughes

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Chapter 8

Elders

Many people play an important part in family giving—spouses, grandparents, trustees—but from the family’s perspective, few roles are more crucial or more complicated than that of the family elders. In Shakespeare’s Richard II, “old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster,” sought to give advice to his nephew King Richard. Instead, when he died, his wealth became “the ripest fruit” to fall into Richard’s reckless hands.

As Gaunt’s failure reveals, elders are not just olders. Grandparents, for example, may become elders: they may become a persuasive voice for deliberation and integrity in the family. But to do so takes more than getting older; it takes a variety of qualities and actions. Likewise, Gaunt’s fate points to the tension ...

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