Our Special Report this month is on family businesses, a topic that, in some ways, is better suited for a soap opera. Estate planners often find themselves caught in the middle of warring family members, who have very different ideas on how to run the business or plan for succession. Some may be so estranged that they’re embroiled in multiple lawsuits against one another. As our articles illustrate, estate planners can take a leadership role in helping their clients avoid some of the emotional issues that can get in the way of running a successful family business and passing it along to the next generation. In “The Estate Planner’s Role in Succession Planning,” p. 35, Marvin E. Blum and Anna K. Selby give a 10-step guide to help advisors establish a balance between pleasing the family and running the business. And, in “Reality Trumps Myth,” p. 30, Patricia M. Angus uses one prominent family’s saga to provide lessons for anyone involved in business, trust or estate planning for a family enterprise. 

Our Report also includes an article that deals with the practical side of running a family business. In “Establishing Virtual Family Offices,” p. 41, Thomas J. Handler proposes a new structure that should help family businesses avoid getting into inadvertent legal trouble. 

We’re also introducing a new Pull-Out Special Report in this issue, called “Art, Auctions & Antiques.” It’s designed to help estate planners understand the complicated art world so they can better serve their clients who own works of art. The articles cover issues such as like-kind exchanges, appraisals, negotiating a consignment of art and transferring works of art to fund grantor retained income trusts.