Every family passing along wealth or control over assets to the next generation should have annual family meetings to review success. Clients with more than $1,000,000 of assets passing to charities or family members often need to review a variety of legal, tax, and investment issues. Professional help is often needed when communicating goals for transferring wealth to heirs or philanthropic causes. Communication is often most effective in family meetings that affirm family relationships and illustrate how discussions of technical planning details foster deeper relationships. Ideally, each family meeting should be led by an adviser who understands the family's relational dynamics as well as the technical issues related to transferring ownership, cash flow, control or management responsibility to the next generation.
- Develop a strong sense of
- Inspire each family member to
pursue a calling
- Establish clear leadership and
- Help family members understand
their responsibilities and
likely rewards related to
upholding the family's values
- Clarify how and when families should fund charities while maintaining permissible access to income from assets given to charity.
Family Meeting Process and Benefits
Robert Frost's wrote, "Good fences make good neighbors." This wisdom applies when families have shared economic interests. All
stakeholders typically crave clarity about their ownership rights and responsibilities. They need to know how their current work will be rewarded and their future share in the business management and ownership will be consistent with expectations. Family meetings help facilitate discussions about reasonable boundaries (fences) when family members depend on each other for success.
A good family meeting differs from a business meeting or board/shareholder meeting in several key ways. The board and shareholder meetings tend to focus on mission and fulfillment of quantified objectives. Business meetings tend to focus on executing directives from the board. Family meetings are unique in because they:
- Foster a spirit of unity by inviting all family members to the meetings, even when
they are not involved in the family business
- Affirm stories about past successes of family leaders who inspire future
- Focus on affirming the vision and value that have contributed to success
- Celebrate family successes and traditions
- Remind each person that the family cares about his/her calling, purpose
statement, and career path
- Inspire a renewed commitment to character ideals and core values
- Create a balance between the family leadership and business leadership
- Articulate expectations in a way that can be reflected in legal documents
- Educate the next generation on money management principles through growing
involvement in investment, charitable giving, and budgetary decisions
- Teach peacemaking and conflict resolution skills.
- Provide training about estate planning and business succession structures
- Prepare all family members to identify, equip, elect, and empower a family leader
|Three Aspects of Family Meetings
||Answer icebreaker questions and/or participate in "funmeister" activities
||Review family videos and otherwise celebrate success
||Help Stakeholders understand their present and expected participation in business success