"When I was in university, I had a business professor who often made comments during his lectures about me not having to worry about a particular issue since I’d be inheriting my family’s business. My father and I never spoke much about it, probably because my hair was so long and we disagreed on just about everything back then. The professor was right in a way because I grew up assuming that the company my father had built would pretty much run itself by the time I got there."
"What a mistake that was. I found it was almost impossible to balance the demands of a board of directors, two lenders, siblings with polar-opposite goals, three long-term key employees and, of course, the founder – now chairman – looking over my shoulder at every move. A few years ago I read an article about one of those nightmare family battles over the estate of a prominent businessman. The idea that this could happen to us really started to eat away at me. Finally I got up the nerve to broach the subject with my father. The moment I raised the issue, he reached into his briefcase and produced the same article that I had been carrying around for some time. That’s when our relationship started to change."
"Some friends we knew recommended The Wealth Advisory as good people to talk to about the complicated issues around succession and estate planning. While we have always had very good professional advisors, it was smart to introduce their specialists to the team. We kicked around different ideas and gradually, with their guidance, we were able to focus our thinking and identify what we wanted to accomplish. We ended up reorganizing the company’s share structure, bringing in third generation trusts and restructuring our life insurance. My father is still very much in control of the business, but the growth is in our hands now, and the company will have plenty of cash to pay the tax bills when my parents are gone. Dealing with the family firm is something they don’t teach you at business school. And anyone who believes that juggling important issues and close relationships is easy should probably stick to the classroom."
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