The Problems Associated with Family Fortunes and Family Businesses

Before soap operas, people could follow the rise and fall of actual famous families’ fortunes. The soaps borrowed heavily from the sagas of wealthy families, stories with the essential elements of any good drama: money, nepotism, jealousy, decadence and conflict.

Family businesses are the world’s most popular form of corporate ownership, yet few family businesses make it past the second generation. In her book, The Dilemmas of Family Wealth: Insights on Succession, Cohesion, and Legacy
, Judy Martel offers case histories and aptly describes the problems associated with family fortunes, but tends to fall short of fully explaining solutions.

Martel repeats some remedies often, such as forming a “family council.” And, some remedies seem slight, such as ways to resolve differences over sharing a summer house.

We appreciate Martel’s emphasis on family values, while wishing this book’s solutions were all as solid as the fascinating problems it describes.