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Celebrating a Legacy of Generosity

I have a vivid memory of purchasing my first car. At 22 years old, my first job out of college had me driving all over LA , and the family car, a 1970 VW Bug, lacked safe seat belts, was rather tin can-like and overheated easily, which required me to buy a more reliable, safe vehicle. I had just moved into my first apartment and did not exactly have the lump of cash that was needed for a used car, so my dad said to me, “I have a line of credit. I’ll loan you the money, and you pay it off with interest.”

My father unexpectedly passed away in April, and since then, we have been keenly reminded of all the moments of sacrifice and generosity from him throughout life. Growing up, we were always aware of the immense support our grandparents provided to our parents, including co-signing on their first house. Sifting through memorabilia, paperwork, and letters after my father's passing made the extent of their assistance even more apparent, with most letters of my dad’s to his parents filled with words of gratitude. My grandparents' gestures of generosity profoundly shaped our family and reflecting over the past month (and with Father’s Day just around the corner), one theme keeps emerging for me – very few people go it alone. 

The term ‘generational wealth’ is a well understood term these days, but the custom of families supporting one another in small and large ways is a deeply rooted human tradition. Mike and I are reminded of this innate generosity often in our real estate practice – whether parents pay it forward to help their children with a down payment, or children who do the same by using home equity to build their parents ADUs, finding a way to care for their parents while optimizing the family’s assets. It’s not about just giving away equity or assets, but more about looking at things holistically for the well being of the entire family. Even things like physically assisting with a home improvement project, or mentorship demonstrate generosity of time and care. When families are solution-minded in caring for loved ones, generational wealth is often the outcome. This human tradition has persisted through centuries, is evident in history and alive and well on our very own street, where it is common to have three or more generations living together, enabling families to care for one another and remain close.

More than anything though, my reflections have been of gratitude – gratitude for the sacrifices my grandparents made for my parents, gratitude for my father’s astute ability to exhibit both generosity and financial responsibility, and especially gratitude for the privilege of being able to witness these acts of generosity for our clients and their loved ones. As we honor my dad this Father’s Day, we encourage our community to take stock in everything our families do for us and strive to pay it forward in our day-to-day, just as our fathers (and mothers!) did before us.

Photos of Erin's father's property up in Lakeport, California.


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