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The Family Wealth Sustainability Toolkit: The Manual by Fran Lotery, Fredda Herz Brown

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CHAPTER 1

Achieving Sustainability: The Challenges, Opportunities, and Complexities of Enterprising Families

Families1 who share assets—a business, a foundation, investments, and/or real estate—also share unique characteristics that tend to set them apart from other families. For these enterprising families, sharing assets adds complexity to their lives and demands significant decision-making and leadership skills, as well as some hard work.

At some point in time, a member or members of a family determined that they would share assets; that is, they would combine their family emotional system with a way of making a living, an economy. As a result, their financial and emotional well-beings are intertwined—perhaps for generations—and they must deal with the complexities of such a joining. Financially, they must make decisions together regarding how to manage what they have, as well as what they want to have. Additionally, there are subtle and not-so-subtle sets of decisions these families must make regarding how they want their shared assets to affect the emotional, social, and intellectual parts of their lives.

While family members can change their joint assets, those assets can also change them and how they relate to one another. For example, their way of life requires enterprising family members to deal with each other around complex fiscal and business decisions long after they become adults. This demands an emotional attentiveness that sets them apart from many of their peers. ...

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