It’s often easy to invite non-blood family for Thanksgiving dinner. However, when it comes to transitioning shares of your business, your wealth or your heirloom assets, you may feel a bit less inclusive.

Family can be defined differently depending on context. Before you work on keeping your family together for a united purpose, it is important to understand the multiple definitions of family and how they apply to specific circumstances.

What is a Family Office?

“A family office is the purposeful, organized, and collective effort by family members, with the assistance of non-family professionals, to transition the soul, spirit and ethos of a family, and its tangible wealth, to subsequent generations.”

Carolyn J. Cole

Why build and maintain a family office?

Not everyone needs a family office. There must be a desire to stay connected for a common purpose. Throughout history, empires, dynasties, and kingdoms were built with a focus on consolidating wealth and transitioning it by bloodline. Today the methods used by wealth creators to guide their families has evolved.

Most family offices are created to foster a healthy family relationship and to maintain a wealth legacy. A family office is the central hub where priorities such as wealth preservation or expansion, family education and dynamics, philanthropy, communication, and much more, are managed.

What does it take to build a family office?

Most importantly a family office requires the emotional and financial commitment to the process by the family. An early vision of the common purpose for the family’s future is helpful. Following the vision comes leadership, impartiality, customization, and the agility to change direction when needed. Typically a team of professionals is assembled to support family initiatives.