Emotional Assets: When It’s Not Just About the Money

LandVest’s Director of Residential Brokerage, Ruth Kennedy Sudduth was recently asked to facilitate a discussion on “emotional assets,” sponsored by Fidelity Family Office Services at Nixon Peabody in Boston. The topic centered on assets where the value can’t just be defined in financial terms.

Featured Family Estate
emotional assets blog: Fenwick Waterfront, Old Saybrook, CT
Fenwick Waterfront, Old Saybrook, CT
Listed by LandVest Luxury Real Estate Brokers Joanna Dresser and Terry Boyle

With real estate, like art, or jewelry, or collectibles, the value is often deeply emotional, touching on memory, identity and family culture.  Even just talking about these matters can be challenging.

Featured Family Estate
Birch Tree Farm, Woodstock, Vermont Fall people horseback riding in Ascutney, Vermont.
Birch Tree Farm, Woodstock, Vermont
Listed by LandVest Luxury Real Estate Brokers Story Jenks and Wade Weathers

What are the key steps to take?

  1. Know what you have: creating certainty around what it is that is owned and what it is worth financially has a grounding effect. Often with important properties, that is challenging to figure out. LandVest can help. A property may be divisible, it may be a great candidate for conservation, it may have easements (or benefit from easements) that have implications for value. In these (in fact, in most cases) Zillow is not enough. Bring in the experts from LandVest to help. Our brokers and consultants can help you get to certainty where there is often dispute, even among family members.
  2. Develop a process for planning: One comment from the conference is that families need a process, not a series of products. Creating a forum for discussion and finding the right partner for these discussions is key. It may be a trusted attorney or family office advisor. It may be a professional skilled in working with families on complex decision-making like CFAR or the Family Business Consulting Group. LandVest works frequently with family advisors to help make informed decisions.
Featured Family Estate
Stonecrop, North Haven, Maine Stonecrop, North Haven, Maine
Stonecrop, North Haven, Maine
Listed by LandVest Luxury Real Estate Brokers Terry Sortwell and Joe Sortwell.

What factors to consider?

  1. Know that it takes time, and often family members’ situations change, so making a plan that has some flexibility for the future can make a huge difference in long term happiness.
  2. Consider a “dual currency system” where how much something is worth emotionally is tallied as well as how much it is worth financially. A great step to a happier outcome is bringing these dual values to light.
  3. Equal isn’t always fair: especially when family members’ objectives can be quite different. Dollars may be critical for one family member, but a conservation outcome, or keeping land for the children may matter more to others. While selling the property and dividing the proceeds may give everyone equal dollars, it might be exactly the wrong thing to do for the family.


Know your options, get in touch with us. We are here to help!
For information on our banner image, Southmayd Farm, please click here.