Friends and family members often turn to lawyers (and other professionals like accountants and wealth managers) they know in because they naturally trust a lawyer who is close to them rather than a stranger. But is this the best approach?
Advisors can provide the best services when they are objective and are governed by reason and not by emotion. Often, and especially in a family situation, they specifically need to be the voice of reason while clients are the ones whose decisions may be driven by passion and emotions.
For lawyers in particular, the issue of ‘who is the client?’ is important. Initially, the client is usually the patriarch / matriarch as wealth owner. But as the family grows, things can get complicated. It may not be possible for the lawyer to act ‘for the family’. Where there is a ‘family office’, consideration will be needed as to what the family office actually is and who is, in fact, the client.
Similarly, wealth managers may not be permitted to talk to the children of their client without a formal engagement. And of course, don’t engage a wealth manager if you’re going to be uncomfortable sacking them if they don’t perform well.
The relationship between a family and all its advisors needs to have just the right amount of ’emotional distance’.
Consider This: How close are you to your advisors? Are they too close that you can’t get rid of them if you needed, or adequately assess their performance? Do you have genuinely independent voices at the table?
Further reading: https://abovethelaw.com/2022/06/lawyers-shouldnt-get-too-emotional-when-representing-friends-and-family/, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=47051b35-6556-4bfd-b130-58fa573336f5
Actionable Generational Wealth Succession
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