business-successWhat would happen if a beloved family member and key executive in your family business and were to be taken from you suddenly, either by an accident or natural causes?

The death of a founder or key executive in a family business is a very difficult situation. Family members must deal with a sudden lack of leadership in the business while grieving the loss of a loved one and a valued leader. It is a sad scenario by any measure. It points out just how fragile life can be and reminds us that none of us is exempt from such forces.

Bonnie Brown Hartley, Ph.D. has written a handbook titled, Sudden Death, a fire drill for building strength and flexibility in families. It is an excellent guide to developing an action plan for such an emergency in a family. There are questions and topics for discussion that will help a family prepare for a host of emergencies. The value lies in the family discussion that takes place while completing the exercises in the handbook.

In the course of my 40+ years as a consultant and strategic planner serving family enterprise, I have assisted families in preparing for the challenges of dealing with the death of family members who were key to the business. In many cases I have assisted clients in the creation of a special personal file that I label, “At time of Death or Emergency.”

These experiences caused me to create my own personal file with that label. Its contents include my last will and testament, details of trusts I have created for my heirs, comprehensive financial information and data about life insurance, a “Letter to my children” which I update from time to time, special bequests, instructions for disposition of personal property and collections and, finally, my express wishes for my funeral and burial.

For details on compiling such a file, stay tuned for my next post.

Does Your Family Business Need Help?

Family Business Matters has extensive experience assisting family businesses. With many decades of experience, we understand the wide variety of challenges that families face as they work together to build, grow and sustain a thriving family business generation after generation. Through conferences, continuing education programs, family business retreats, speaking engagements and private family business consulting services, Family Business Matters has assisted more than 450 family-owned businesses around the world chart their way through family business issues of all shapes and sizes.

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For more information on how Family Business Matters can help your family business survive and thrive, please contact us today at (970) 948-5077.