The importance of succession planning and how family offices can deal with death in the family

Succession planning can be a sensitive subject in many families and organisations, but as the saying goes, the only guarantee in life is death and taxes. Once preparations for death are done correctly they can serve to protect the family and build wealth effectively.
succession planning for family offices

What you need to know

  • The saying goes that nothing in life is certain, except for death (and taxes). After the turmoil of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have been forced to contend with death in one way or another.
  • Despite many best efforts, we’re never truly prepared for the death of a loved one, and the matter of wills, estates and inheritances can only complicate things. In the case of family offices, losing a principal member can have serious implications for the business, as well as the family, especially if there wasn’t careful attention paid to succession planning.
  • No one can truly prepare themselves for the loss of a loved one, but by putting certain practices into place, you can mitigate any uncertainty within the family office.
Governance Updated on October 21, 2022

As hard as we may try to avoid it, death is a certainty of life and 2020 marked new uncharted territory for the current generation. We faced the whirlwind that is COVID-19, global shutdowns and a new way of living, that left many confused and at times bereaved. We never truly prepare for death or the aftermath of it. In this time we have seen families losing their patriarchs and matriarchs, and family offices losing their principles. Families and family offices alike can feel large voids, especially when the assumption has been there that the principal had dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s, only to find unsigned wills and un-finalised trusts. The hardest part is having the “next of kin” decide on what happens next and who will lead. When someone dies, the whole family system is thrown off. Grieving family members find themselves disinterested and/or incapable of behaving in the ways they used to. Not only do people have to cope with grief, but they also must deal with the fact that a vital piece of the family is gone. This all boils down to the importance of succession planning for family offices and how they can protect the family in the aftermath of a death.

It truly all sounds like it’s a scene played out of a fiction book or a Hollywood blockbuster movie, those who have experienced it know that the truth is so much more bizarre. How can families who are bereft rise from the pain of losing a loved one and deal with the every day knowing very well that the family may feel like a rudderless boat?

About the Authors

Tsitsi Mutendi

Tsitsi Mutendi

Succession & governance

Tsitsi is an award-winning entrepreneur and consultant for family business and offices. As a third-generation family business owner, Tsitsi has extensive experience in international business and family business dynamics.

Connect with Tsitsi Mutendi

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