Our Story

The First 10 Years — The ‘Missing Link’ in Wealth Management

The Institute for Preparing Heirs was formed to fill a void in how wealth transfer advice was being delivered to successful families. While advisors were doing a great job managing money, few were preparing the inheriting generation to receive and manage wealth. 

A Novel Idea: Passing on Family Values & Wealth

In the fall of 2008, a seasoned financial advisor attended a presentation, “Passing on Your Wealth & Values,” at the Pepperdine University campus. The speaker, Roy Williams, co-author of the book Preparing Heirs, shared that only 30% of families retained control of assets and harmony by the third generation, post wealth transfer. Roy talked about the reasons why, despite the good work wealth advisors were doing on behalf of their clients. The main cause of unsuccessful transfers was a breakdown of trust and communication within the family.  

Not only did clients need to become aware of the potential risks and the opportunities of wealth transfer, advisors needed to hear this message as well. Advisors needed a process that instilled the confidence to include generational wealth planning as an add-on to their advisory business.

Institute for Preparing Heirs Established in 2009

The Institute was established in May 2009, by four individuals who each brought a unique skill, perspective and competence to the new firm. Roy Williams and Vic Preisser, family consultants, had been preparing families for successful wealth transfers for over 40 years and wrote the book Preparing Heirs; Diane Doolin, a successful financial advisor for over 20 years; and Carol Sherman, an award-winning writer and marketing strategist.

The Institute was named for the book, Preparing Heirs. This was the first publication to address why most unprepared families lose control of their assets and/or family cohesion post-estate transfer, and what families can do to break the cycle of shirtsleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations. 

While Roy and Vic brought decades of experience successfully coaching families through wealth transition and preparing heirs to be responsible stewards of wealth, Diane brought a keen understanding of how to translate the work they did with high-net worth families for the advisor. This included processes, training, and tools advisors could easily use to evolve their businesses from trusted advisor to Trusted Family Advisor®.

The Institute’s singular focus is training advisors. We believe that the advisor should not try to assume the role of psychologist or family therapist, but can become knowledgeable about knowing when to make a referral for a specialized family consultant.

What Defines the Institute for Preparing Heirs Today

The Institute was first to use checklists that position advisors to easily move conversations from money matters to family matters. Family checklists serve to guide conversations about wealth, legacy, and purpose to align the entire family for a successful wealth transfer.

In addition to our faculty of industry innovators who are all experts in family wealth transfer, the Institute has benefited from the guidance of leaders in their fields. These include family consultants Dr. Robert Kenny and Dr. Karen Weisgerber, who were formerly with Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy; and Dr. Carol Scott, physician, author and preeminent thought-leader in bringing the wealth-health connection to the inheritance conversation. 

The Next 10 Years & Beyond — Building a Legacy for Advisors & Their Clients

In 2009, our founders saw a gap in the advice and services offered to successful families. They still do.

While the Institute has distinguished itself as the leader in bringing about awareness and solutions to the financial services industry, The Great Wealth Transfer® continues to impact the advisor’s ability to retain and grow their businesses. However, we have the solution and we’re excited about the future!

True to the founders’ vision, we continue to evolve with new training programs, new content, and new family tools. And we’re always open to partnerships with firms who want to differentiate themselves as leaders in next generational wealth transfer advice and services. While experience has shown us that in-person training is most effective, we’re exploring new training platforms for 2020 to make for easy and cost effective access to our original advisor training and family tools.

At the Institute, we believe that with preparation everything is possible.


$68trillion in family wealth will pass to heirs and charities over the next 25 years.
— Cerulli, 2018

70% of unprepared families lose control of assets and family unity by the third generation.
— The Williams Group

90+% of unprepared advisors lose the inheriting generation when wealth transfers.
— Cisco Wealth Management, 2013

Women will inherit 70% of U.S. wealth over the next decade.
— Advisor Perspectives, 2011



60% of unsuccessful wealth transfers result from a lack of trust and communication among family members.

20% of failed wealth transfers are due unprepared heirs.

15% of unprepared families have no wealth mission.

Less than 5% are due to errors in estate documents.

— The Williams Group



9.5 out of 10 average workshop evaluations by attendees.

15 2-day learning labs and hundreds of workshops with 1000’s of advisors.

10 years and countless hours of training curriculum development, and product development and testing.

Thousands of advisors use our proven processes and family tools with clients.

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You’ll receive a copy of our white paper, “Advice Beyond The Money: Preparing Families to Prosper & Thrive For Generations,” & our Client Family Tree tool for your next client meeting.