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Family Wealth: — Keeping It in the Family — How Family Members and Their Advisers Preserve Human, Intellectual, and Financial Assets for Generations, Revised and Expanded Edition by James E. Hughes Jr.

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Chapter 18. The Role of Elders

Some years ago when I was developing the ideas for this book I tried to establish rules that would parallel the ones that guide the three branches of most democratic governments: legislative, executive, and judicial.

I found it easy to imagine how a family using the idea of all of its adult members serving as a family assembly could develop a legislative branch. I imagined that this branch would have the following responsibilities:

  • 1) Develop the rules for the family's governance and at annual family meetings debate these rules to ensure excellent governance.

  • 2) Vote on the formation of, and candidates for, the family's executive branch, and for the establishment of such other committees and their memberships as would be necessary to achieve the family assembly's goals.

  • 3) Debate and develop the family's mission statement and discuss such changes to it as would ensure that the family's values and goals were clearly defined and were being practiced by all the family's internal and external advisers.

  • 4) Annually review the action of all its representatives to ensure their excellence.

The second branch of family governance, the executive, was also relatively easy to envision. I imagined that in this branch, normally called the family council, representatives of the family as selected by the family assembly would have the following responsibilities:

  • 1) Execute the decisions made by the family assembly in the year following the actions of the family assembly. ...

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