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ABC of family protection in COVID-19 times

In my work with business families including those who co-own properties, uncertainty causes fear especially among family members. In this period of COVID-19 there is even more uncertainty than usual.

These are three actions that can mitigate the impact of the chaos, and calm any anxieties your family may have:

A. Keep communication transparent

Host a virtual family meeting to be transparent, explaining what you know and what you don't know, and work with family members to develop a strategy to get through these times. Some things to think about:

  1. Review existing family values

  2. Look at the business impact for those family members not familiar with the day-to-day of the business and possible financial impact on them personally

  3. Social distancing strategies - delay gatherings or go virtual

  4. Ask if family members have questions for you

B. Take a position of preservation of wealth

The economy and financial markets are taking a toll on finances, personal and corporate. There needs to be a balance between the long-term approach and items that need attention now such as succession planning and reviewing what assets may be affected during this period, particularly assets in the financial market.

Succession planning should be reviewed, whether it is to pass assets onto the rising generation (such as an estate freeze) now or to re-set the value of a previously established estate freeze to today's lower values. There may be an opportunity to defer taxes.

C. Prepare the rising generation

The effects of COVID-19 is one I have not seen in my lifetime, and most definitely in the lifetime of the rising generation. Take this opportunity to education and prepare the rising generation to be future leaders. Mentor them in the family's values, vision, mission and business strategy. Lean on them to brainstorm, allowing them to understand that everyone is learning, and quickly. Adapting is necessary, whether in family or in business.

Remember to ask your family about questions they may have and prepare answers that help them feel supported. And in turn ask for support. We all need each other during this pandemic, even more than usual.

Let me know if you or your family would like any assistance, during this time.

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