At the point of inheritance, the family wealth is handed down from the generation passing it on to the next generation. Just like inheriting a business, a family home or financial assets, passing on woodland can raise many questions and doubts on both sides: how do you manage the inherited property? How does one deal with the responsibility that such a legacy represents? How can one encourage the desire to look after it and how is it possible to make the most of it? What does the status of heir entail?
Quite apart from its material value, woodland property often represents a life story, memories and traditions, as well as the time and energy invested by previous generations. Of course, there are many different ways of looking at such a legacy: reputation and values for those who are handing it down; status and duties for those who inherit it. And then there’s what is obvious to everyone: knowledge and customs.
In addition to its current and future owners, there is a third stakeholder in any area of woodland: the public. The recent Forest Law of 23 August 2023 also confirmed this.
How do you deal with the issue of transferring such assets in order to ensure their continued existence, while preserving family harmony?
When such a transfer is planned, it is vital to find the right time, place and way to initiate dialogue between the generations and promote constructive communication between all those taking part.
At Banque de Luxembourg, we have been observing family dynamics for many years. Misunderstandings and things left unsaid are often a source of tension. Drawing on our experience, we support families by helping them to take a step back and identify what is important for each generation.
Communicating means first and foremost listening, like a passenger who isn’t behind the wheel, who lets the other person go at their own pace, clarifying or rephrasing where necessary, and in turn sharing their feelings.
Every family is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, each family can seize the opportunity to build tailor-made solutions for a successful transfer. Banque de Luxembourg can support and guide families in this process, in particular by offering a framework conducive to this discussion.
Because, apart from these questions, inheriting woodland also raises legal questions: who will inherit, and how much? How will this inheritance be passed on?
Read the rest of this article in the next edition of De Lëtzebuerger Bësch to be published in december