Classic Dilemmas

by John L. Ward

Classically, families transitioning from sibling parents to successor cousins face the challenge of transferring wealth and power by common rules shared by all the branches or by each parent deciding what’s best for their children. The questions where parent/branches could disagree:

  • At what age should next generation receive dividends, income?
  • At what age should next generation receive stock and voting rights?
  • At what age should next generation attend board meetings as observers?

Parents, of course, have the right to disagree on what’s best for their children. On the other hand, equivalency facilitates transparency and goodwill among the families.

As with all dilemmas, what to do is a matter of respectful balance. One family said it well:

“We coordinate and set uniform policy as much as possible

AND

respect that parental privilege comes first.”

That reminds us of a family seeking to balance the family-first or business-first dilemma. They speak to it in a paradoxical way:

“The business always comes first – but for the family.”

Please share any dilemmas or paradoxes you face as a family in business.

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