By Sharon Wisch-Ray
Time to make the donuts. Does anyone else feel that way right now? Between work, confirmations, graduations, camp and vacation preparations, it’s a super busy time for most people. Thank goodness the days are getting longer so we can squeeze in a little bit more! I’ve been promising for several weeks now to share Marvin Blum’s interaction with financial wizard Warren Buffet at the early May meeting of Berkshire Hathaway stockholders. Not many of the 30,000 get the golden opportunity to ask Buffet a question, but Marvin was lucky enough this year to be one of the chosen few. To top off the experience, the exchange was widely reported both locally, in the Fort Worth Business Press and nationally in the The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg Business Week and The World-Herald. Commentary from these sources was syndicated and reprinted globally by many other outlets. Here’s an excerpt of how it went:
MB: “I am Marvin Blum from Fort Worth, Texas, home to four of your companies.”
WB: “Oh, Fort Worth! We love Fort Worth.”
MB: “Thank you. We love you too and your presence in our community. I’m an estate planning lawyer, and it’s interesting as we wrap up today to ponder that the baby boomer generation is about to pass along the greatest transfer of wealth in history. I can design plans that eliminate estate tax and pass down great amounts of wealth to the next generation, but many of my clients come to me and say they want a plan like Warren Buffet’s, leaving their kids enough so they can do anything, but not so much that they can do nothing. Now they ask me, and I am asking you, ‘How much is that, and how do you keep from ruining your kids?’”
WB: “I think that more of our kids are ruined by the behavior of their parents than by amount of the inheritance … [applause] … Your children are learning about the world through you and more through your actions than they are through your words. From the moment they’re born, you’re their natural teacher. And it is a very important and serious job, and I don’t actually think that the amount of money that a rich person leaves to their children is the determining factor at all. In terms of how children turn out, I think that the atmosphere, and what they see about them and how their parents behave are more important.
“I’ll say this. I’ve loosened up a little bit. Every time I rewrite my will, my kids are happy, because they know I am not reducing the amount. Anyway, and something else I find, which I think is an obvious thing; it is amazing how many people don’t do it.
“Your children are going to read the will someday, assuming you’re a wealthy person. It’s crazy for them to read it after you’re dead for the first time. You’re not in a position to answer questions unless the Ouija board really works or something of the sort. So, if they’re going to have questions about how to carry out your wishes or why you did this or that, why leave them endlessly wondering after you die? So, in my own case I always have my children, when I rewrite my will every five or six years, and I have them read it, and if they’re an executor under it, they should understand how to carry out their obligations that are embodied in the will, and also if they feel there is anything unfair about it, they should express themselves before I sign that will, and we should talk it over. … ”
Kickoff of Ahavath Sholom film festival is Sunday, June 9
Chariots of Fire will be the first installment of Ahavath Sholom’s 2013 Film Festival. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, it is a British historic drama that tells the story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: a devout Christian who runs for the glory of God, and a Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.
The showing is sponsored by Yad B’ Yad, the organization for reconciliation between Jews and Christians whose founder and director, Posy McMillen, will lead the discussion after the showing of the film.
The movie starts at 6:30 p.m., right after minyan. Free popcorn and cold drinks will be served.