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Family meetings


I’ve said this before, but it happens so often it is worth saying again – family’s row, it’s normal.  In fact it is so normal when I meet a whole extended family that gets on it is rare, very rare!!  The level to which family’s row can vary from slight niggles and barbed comments to full on expensive litigation and outside of legal offices, intimidation and threats.


So how should family’s deal with this situation?  It all depends on the circumstances of that family.  If for example they are in business together, they need to have professional advice of business planning, to include this like how they resolve disputes and how they deal with succession.  It may be cost money to do so, but it is nearly always far cheaper than letting the family feud take its course.


On a simple level have a family meeting and discuss the things that concern the family members, the first one might be difficult and might need a “chairperson”, which might take the form of the “head of the family” or some trusted family friend or advisor.  If the first one went well, then the family can trust the process to hope to get a good outcome for any future meetings.  If things are going badly before the first meeting, it may even be worthwhile paying for a professional mediator, in the hope that one won’t be needed for future meetings.


Family’s, like individuals are all different, but often have similarities.  Therefore what is right for one family to resolve their problems may not be right for the next one, it depends on the family and their problems, as well as the willingness of the family members to resolve their issues.


I’ve seen too many family’s row and then they each want to litigate the problem and at the end the relations are almost always far worse than before litigation started.  So the cost of not resolving the family issue should not be looked at purely in financial terms in isolation, it will also affect the relationships which can take generations to overcome.


Communication and empathy are key, but the message is the same, and I will no doubt come back to this topic – family’s row, it’s normal.  But try to resolve it by other means than litigation; it should always be the final course of action, not the first.