REVIEW: Family Wealth Transition Planning: Advising Families with Small Businesses

Written by Bonnie Brown Hartley and Gwendolyn Griffith

This book’s strength is its very readable and holistic perspective about family wealth transitions:  the focus of wealth transfer should not just be on the financial assets of the family but also on the family itself — how the family relates to one another, how the family cooperates and makes decisions, how the family plans to use its wealth, and finally, what the family wants to stand for in terms of its legacy.  In order to bring their concepts ‘alive’, the authors have created three fictitious and diverse family case studies.  When a concept, tool or theory is discussed there is an excerpt from one of the three family studies providing a dynamic and informative illustration.

This book does not by-pass the practical importance of information regarding taxes, gifting plans and the like but it recommends that before a family starts putting those legal/financial documents in place, they have a good understanding of what the wealth is and what they want to do with it.

Finally, the authors present four very useful stages for a family business advisor’s approach:

-Understand the systems at play and the developmental stages they are in (family, business, individuals
-Inventory assets (financial, human and social)
-Map the family system utilizing a Genogram
-Use a circumplex model for the family of behaviors.