Inheriting Tomorrow

When we think about an inheritance we usually think of money or items that once belonged to our ancestors that they wanted to pass down. But what if we were to broaden that out? 

I like to think broadly and not narrowly. My colleague Donal Griffin has written a book ‘Be a Better Ancestor’ and one of the chapters is titled “great families are more than money.” Donal talks about families having other assets than money that add to the balance sheet, such as human, intellectual and social assets. Our contributions to the relationships we nurture, the knowledge we gain and impart to others, and the impact we have on our community all enhance our sense of service and that can be very rewarding.

In preparing the next generation we need to consider that in succession planning the most fraught times can be at the point of transition.  These are stressful times, and under enough pressure even the best of us can crumble or reveal our not so best side. TV series like Succession and Yellowstone come to mind!  

Richard Owens’ family has been a case study, featured in the book Wise Wealth, and used in business schools around the world. The decisions made in the family run business and the model for preparing the next generation have been well documented by the late Richard Owens. He was an early adopter of good governance by putting in place a board for the family business and a family council for the wider family. Regular family meetings are a highlight Richard talked about in his interviews where children, grandchildren and their interested partners are invited to attend. Open conversations are a good form of communicating to and with the next generation. Richard also noted that retiring to something rather than from something, meant he could pass the baton to the next generation in the family business. In his example, he bought a vineyard and went and grew grapes and made wine to keep himself busy and keep his nose out of the way of the next generation but was available as a resource if needed.

I recently went to a talk by Liz Ellis, retired Australian netball captain and she spoke of the same experience of the importance of having something to go to when retiring. As an aside, she made sure she had a wind down of 12 months for her physical exercise from professional sportsperson to ‘average’ person. Now that is good planning!

Family meetings, developing good communication and opportunity for stewardship training make the short list of things to consider in preparing the next generation. I think of the things I have inherited from my ancestors and the financial aspects are only a small part of this.  

If you are running a family-owned business, what good governance do you have in place? If you are planning for who will be your beneficiaries, what else besides the financial aspects do you want to consider? If you want some help in this area, get in touch with Veronica at Leadership in Mind.


Griffin, D, 2023. Being a Better Ancestor.

Schwass, J., Hillerström, H., Kück, H. and Lief, C., 2010. Wise Wealth: Creating it, managing it, preserving it. Springer.

From Family Feud to Successful Family Conflict. Tharawat Magazine (22 April 2019)