When mixing business and personal gets messy…

When it comes to selling your business or preparing for retirement, it’s simple – we just need to separate business and personal interests.

Yeah right! I know from experience that it isn’t simple, and it can be an overwhelming experience when you are stuck in the middle of it and/or trying to do it alone.

We often find that business owners have grown from start-ups to larger businesses over a number of years, with a large team of great people working with them and for them. Administration teams within the business are often efficient and trusted, so they take on personal bill paying, management of personal, commercial, or residential properties, coordination of meetings for personal appointments along with the stress of dealing with new systems and processes regarding AML, bank, and/or legal requirements. And this works well until it’s time for a new partner, the next generation to take over, or you want to sell and retire.

Family Office administration can take the pain of the administration processes away by ensuring addresses are updated, bank permissions are set up, agreements for services are detailed, setting up meetings with our or your trusted advisors regarding insurance and investments, as well as preparing a living life document so that family or family friends can access details of personal contacts and wishes when needed.

If you have exited your business, are retired or semi-retired, have family looking after all of the above, or you’re doing it all yourself, it could be time to think differently.

Having family look after your assets, wealth, and best interests isn’t always easy or the best thing. What happens when you have more than one child? Who are you going to choose? Does one of your children seem to have a natural interest in what you are doing, or have you pigeonholed them into it? From personal experience, I understand how much we want to trust, grow, and develop our children. And sometimes there is that one family member that seems to thrive with the opportunity you give them. A natural choice, right? Maybe, or maybe not.

My experience with my extended family is not new for many others, and although the choice might have seemed natural, in hindsight, it wasn’t a good one. The mum and dad thought they had picked out the son interested in property investment, collecting, and deal flow, and started teaching him from their experiences. The skills seemed to be a great match, and to avoid ownership of too many properties, they also split the titles into different names. They did what they thought was right and sensible by making at least two children co-signees of an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), and the mum and dad ensured they had up-to-date wills.

When the father passed away, leaving a wife with dementia who needed full-time care, within two years the EPA was put into action. Unfortunately, the son who had been chosen was very overpowering and intimidating with all the perceived knowledge of properties and the market. The other brother allowed most of the buying, selling, spending, and investing to continue without being fully aware. It was only when the chosen brother passed away two months before the mother did, that the extent of the rogue behaviour was detailed. This brother had also been estranged from his wife for over ten years and had no will, so the ex-wife claimed all the assets bought in his name with the family’s inheritance. Does this sound messy? It is! Does this sound heart-wrenching? It is. You end up with a family grieving the loss of a sibling and a mum, as well as the anger caused by the dissolution of an inheritance you thought was safe and secure. The behaviours of one person have a ripple effect throughout more than just immediate family.

I know that every situation is different, and it doesn’t always turn out for the worst, but from some of the stories I’ve witnessed, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you’d like to get in touch with me, I’d be happy to meet with you to discuss this further.

“My family and I have had the pleasure over the past 6 years of working with Debra and the GS team which has been an absolute delight! Debra is the perfect balance of professional and personable. Debra really took the time to understand our family’s unique financial situation and provided exceptional guidance and advice. With Debra’s help we are able to stress-free manage our monthly finances, family trusts and much more. Thank you Debra for being so reliable, trustworthy and friendly we appreciate all that you do for our family.” – Emma Thorne / Baker Family

If you don’t know where to begin, want to talk through something, or have a specific question but are not sure who to address it to, fill in the form, and we’ll get back to you within two working days.

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