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Employment Policy Allows Family Buy-Out

The family was shaken by the tragedy--their beloved son, brother, husband, father, cousin---a leader of a successful family business= third generation---dead in a bizarre accident while still in his 40s. And the family was shaken again when his will revealed that company voting shares had been placed in a trust for the benefit of his young children---and that the trustee was their mother---his former wife.

A short-time later, six family members in the business representing three generations met. The agenda dealt with ownership of their enterprise motivated by concern that those owning shares would continue to share the same goals. Over six months of discussion, they developed a plan by which the nine family members in the business would buy the shares of their 16 kin not employed in the business.

Many difficult decisions were made. A price was negotiated. Financing was arranged. Documents provided full disclosure to all. But discussion with several family members revealed a problem: they were hesitant to sell their shares out of a desire to assure their children the opportunity to be involved in the business.

The solution was simple, generous and farsighted. A family employment policy was crafted: It promised the opportunity of employment for qualified lineal descendants of the founder; if they were promoted into management, they would have the opportunity to rejoin the ownership group; all descendants of the founder have equal opportunity for employment and advancement.

The family met and all agreed to the proposed buy-out in peace and harmony. All felt appreciation for the gift they'd received, whether that gift now took the form of stock or cash, and all continued to feel strong connections with their family business and with each other.

 

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