TIPS TO A SUCCESSFUL FAMILY MEETING
Follow these guidelines for a productive get-together with all members
of the family.
- Circulate an agenda ahead of time to allow
family members to add items to the agenda. No surprises are allowed at the
meeting. Make sure that sharing your passion for why you own the property is
an agenda item!
- Disclose any conflicts of interest or
interfamily financial arrangements. You must build an environment of
transparency and disclosure so that people know what is going on. This helps
to stop the rumor mill and builds trust.
- Disclose on the agenda what decisions are
expected to be made at the meeting and what decision-making model will be
used. There are three basic decision-making models: advise and consent (we
advise, Dad decides); majority rule (by person or by ownership); and consensus
(everyone has to agree). Each model has its place and is appropriate for
certain types of decisions.
- If significant travel is involved in getting
to the meeting, consider having the business pay for it. Also, select a
meeting space where you will not be distracted or interrupted.
- Limit the business portion of the meeting to
business owners only and set a time limit for the meeting. Start and end on
- Use the business meeting as an opportunity to
teach the members about the "business" of the business - how you make
decisions and, more importantly, why you made the decisions. They need the
benefit of both your experience and your value system. Involve the owners in
the important decisions that need to be made for the future. Recap the last
meeting and what actions were taken as a result of that meeting. Expect and
encourage members to think and act as owners and engage their minds and hearts
in your vision for the property. Allow them to add their own ideas to yours as
you move forward together.
- Hold a separate family meeting where spouses
are invited (if they are not owners) to discuss how the family will interact
with the property. Spend time to get to know each other as adults. Reserve a
room at a local restaurant and go around the table letting each person share
what is happening in their lives, what is important to them and what successes
and challenges they have had since the last time you got together.
- Follow up after the meeting to remind people
what decisions were made and give periodic progress reports on the results of
those actions. Tangible results will encourage more participation in the
Bentz, Clint. "Estate Planning:
Ensuring the Future of Your Legacy." Tree Farmer July/August 2005: 6 -
NOTE: In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without
profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this
information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more
information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml