What Matters – A Novel by Cam Thornton and Rod Zeeb

What Matters – A Novel by Cam Thornton and Rod Zeeb

[caption id="attachment_900" align="alignleft" width="229"]What Matters by Cam Thornton and Rod Zeeb What Matters by Cam Thornton and Rod Zeeb[/caption]

The following was adapted from an article featuring an interview with Cam Thornton, co-author of the book “What Matters”, in the June 2012 issue of “Research Magazine”.

According to Cam Thornton, “Most people are concerned throughout their life with money. But what’s equally important is a person’s story. What is it that has made you who you are? That’s the missing link in most planning today.”

It was this missing link that inspired the new novel, “WhatMatters”, co-authored by Cam Thornton, a certified financial planner, and Rod Zeeb, a former estate planning attorney who heads The Heritage Institute in Lake Oswego, Ore.

The authors hope to shine a light on heritage planning, which helps prepare heirs to receive their financial and emotional inheritance. As Thornton puts it, “Your legacy is defined by what you value, not by the valuables you have amassed.” Without purposely preserving the former, the latter may well be lost.

In the novel, 82-year-old Martin Forrestal, who is on his deathbed, has taken on the task to reflect and record the values that matter most to him. Throughout each chapter Martin shares stories and musings on values of love, forgiveness, leadership, determination, compassion, faith, sacrifice, philanthropy and family unity. Many of the stories in the book were inspired by real-life clients counseled by both Thornton and Zeeb.

Thornton noted, “What I would hope readers would take away is, first and foremost, to slow down and savor their own treasure chest of memories, to recall and share their own stories. Sharing your passions reveals what has made you who you are. Most families don’t know the whole story, the ups and downs that are a part of life. It’s really critical that you share your feelings so that others can share an appreciation for the road already traveled.”

According to Thornton, 60% of families waste away their wealth by the end of the second generation. By the end of the third generation, 90% of families have little or nothing left of it.

Thornton was drawn to heritage planning several years ago when, after a client died, the family imploded. “I had done everything correctly from my end,” he says. “The estate planning attorney had done everything correctly from his end. The focus was always on the money — and it didn’t matter in the end. When I began to think about the values of family, of stories, it just clicked for me." Soon after, Thorton created a process called The Family Financial Philosophy System, intended to bridge the gap between passing on owns and passing on what one is.

Thornton has since joined forces with The Heritage Institute, which advocates the like- minded Heritage Process. The Heritage Institute, founded in 2003, has certified over 100 advisors in the heritage planning process — among them, financial advisors, estate planning attorneys, non-profit executives and family coaches.

Thornton hopes that What Matters will introduce a far greater number of families to heritage planning. He stated, “I want people to use the book as an example. Martin knows he is terminally ill but life is unfinished and there are things bothering him. List, like Martin, the values you’ve learned over a lifetime. If you do no more than sit down with a notepad and start to focus on life lessons learned, that’s a good start. Our biggest hope is to reach as many families as we can. Do what Martin did. Tell your story.”