Why do we need to include off farm family and in laws in this process?

Why do we need to include off farm family and in laws in this process?

Business owners are often worried about “opening a can of worms” when it comes to including off farm family members, and in laws in particular, in the succession planning process.  However, it is important for them to remember that they can’t assume what off farm family members and in laws are thinking, and from that perspective, it is vital for these people to be invited to be part of the process in order to be heard.

The reality is that it is far better to address any issues while everyone is alive and well, and before the issues become issues. Making major decisions during periods of crisis, when it is likely that emotions are running high, does not make good business sense, nor does it enhance family relationships.

In laws have grown up in different families, and will therefore have a world view that is different to the family into which they are marrying. They are also generally well educated and ask questions around the contentious issues such as housing, education of children, use of company vehicles, work hours and holidays, and withdrawals of capital, for instance.  They do this, not to be difficult, but because they require clarity in order to make decisions for their own families.  

If dealt with early, standard operating policies can be put in place to deal with the contentious issues, and formal agreements and insurance policies can be instituted to manage events such as the premature death or disability of a family member. Off farm family members and in laws are entitled to have their questions answered, and business owners have a responsibility to provide those answers.  


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