Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

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huangtiger11
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Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by huangtiger11 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:01 pm

My wife is executor to her father's estate and it was a mess but it is near completion after 1 year. This would be a monstrous task for my father's estate. :shock:

My father is about 80 and still runs a small empire of hotels and other properties in the United States. He has been remarried twice; currently with a wife that is in her late 50s. I myself am very successful and can plan retirement at any time. My sister and brother are in similar circumstances. The honest truth is that none of us want to inherit my father's business/start a second career in a field where we have no experience.

My father and I are not very close. I am in the medical field, I am much more realistic regarding what may happen in our futures and see lives taken away with little warning. There are cultural barriers regarding discussions of death (we are Asian) and he is also very superstitious. I have had limited discussions with him, his current wife and one of his close business partner about retirement planning. He truly loves his work which involves driving around and checking up on how things are managed. LOL, he has even thought of branching out to Belize. There was a period of time when my mother passed away where he was financially lost and needed someone to replace her primarily to "straighten out the books". My sister had to leave her family and fill that role until he was remarried. Now he is on his 3rd wife and she appears to be very pleasant and caring. They have now been married for 6 years + and I would assume she has a fairly good grasp of his business. The only other heir would be this wife's son who we have never met.

Again, my goal is not to inherit his business and ignorance is actually good. An inheritance would actually complicate my retirement but to request to be taken off a will (if there is one?) would likely not go well. Which parent wouldn't want to pass down the success of their work to their children? We greatly appreciated my parent's dedications to giving us wonderful opportunities in the US and that is truly enough of a gift.

Concerns:
Records/bookkeeping was a nightmare when my sister was involved in the past and suspect some of it persists.
He has had attorneys and CPAs but I was not impressed. I had concerns when I was asked to help set up a "Charitable" fund after the sale of one of his properties.
Doubtful there is a an up-to-date will.
I am not real estate savvy and probably would not know what I was looking at if I were to inquire further. :confused
What happens if this wife exits the picture? 50% to her is fine but someone else will have to sort out the above again!

My thoughts:
-It's his life, he is happy. Wife seems ok and can possibly handle what he has amassed and put it to good use.
-Perhaps he is still vibrant and there will be a time later when he is ready to reveal his future wishes. Our children and our careers was our priority but perhaps now that the children are grown and I am nearing retirement, there is more time for family visits and thus chip away at his and his wife's goals/wishes.
-Be nice for someone to set them up with an estate planner/lawyer (Definitely would of worked better for my wife's father's estate if this occurred when he was alive).
Maybe the best idea is to encourage a true charitable foundation at the end for his entire estate if not needed by his wife/other family members.


Is it common for a charity to be handed an estate with poor records, documentation? Is it the sole role of the executor? Is there help if one is not familiar with the business? What do you do with all of the employees/partners?

I would be also very interested to hear opinions/experiences of parents who had to give up their businesses especially if their children where incapable or not wanting to carry on the family business. I hope this is not too touchy of a subject and I remain a respectful and grateful son.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:59 pm

huangtiger11 wrote:My wife is executor to her father's estate and it was a mess but it is near completion after 1 year. This would be a monstrous task for my father's estate. :shock:

My father is about 80 and still runs a small empire of hotels and other properties in the United States. He has been remarried twice; currently with a wife that is in her late 50s. I myself am very successful and can plan retirement at any time. My sister and brother are in similar circumstances. The honest truth is that none of us want to inherit my father's business/start a second career in a field where we have no experience.

My father and I are not very close. I am in the medical field, I am much more realistic regarding what may happen in our futures and see lives taken away with little warning. There are cultural barriers regarding discussions of death (we are Asian) and he is also very superstitious. I have had limited discussions with him, his current wife and one of his close business partner about retirement planning. He truly loves his work which involves driving around and checking up on how things are managed. LOL, he has even thought of branching out to Belize. There was a period of time when my mother passed away where he was financially lost and needed someone to replace her primarily to "straighten out the books". My sister had to leave her family and fill that role until he was remarried. Now he is on his 3rd wife and she appears to be very pleasant and caring. They have now been married for 6 years + and I would assume she has a fairly good grasp of his business. The only other heir would be this wife's son who we have never met.

Again, my goal is not to inherit his business and ignorance is actually good. An inheritance would actually complicate my retirement but to request to be taken off a will (if there is one?) would likely not go well. Which parent wouldn't want to pass down the success of their work to their children? We greatly appreciated my parent's dedications to giving us wonderful opportunities in the US and that is truly enough of a gift.

Concerns:
Records/bookkeeping was a nightmare when my sister was involved in the past and suspect some of it persists.
He has had attorneys and CPAs but I was not impressed. I had concerns when I was asked to help set up a "Charitable" fund after the sale of one of his properties.
Doubtful there is a an up-to-date will.
I am not real estate savvy and probably would not know what I was looking at if I were to inquire further. :confused
What happens if this wife exits the picture? 50% to her is fine but someone else will have to sort out the above again!

My thoughts:
-It's his life, he is happy. Wife seems ok and can possibly handle what he has amassed and put it to good use.
-Perhaps he is still vibrant and there will be a time later when he is ready to reveal his future wishes. Our children and our careers was our priority but perhaps now that the children are grown and I am nearing retirement, there is more time for family visits and thus chip away at his and his wife's goals/wishes.
-Be nice for someone to set them up with an estate planner/lawyer (Definitely would of worked better for my wife's father's estate if this occurred when he was alive).
Maybe the best idea is to encourage a true charitable foundation at the end for his entire estate if not needed by his wife/other family members.


Is it common for a charity to be handed an estate with poor records, documentation? Is it the sole role of the executor? Is there help if one is not familiar with the business? What do you do with all of the employees/partners?

I would be also very interested to hear opinions/experiences of parents who had to give up their businesses especially if their children where incapable or not wanting to carry on the family business. I hope this is not too touchy of a subject and I remain a respectful and grateful son.
Nei Hou, "HuangTiger11"
做咩呀?
Some thoughts:
Your father's silent pride is in your success and independence, just as he is self-reliant in his affairs.
Are you the eldest?
Your father has asked for your help with the "charitable fund". Good. That is a lst step. A test to see how well you carry it out. Of course he can hire a professional to do it. But, he wants to perhaps either give you something to feel you are sharing in his affairs, or is perhaps see how well you do.
Your dad is aware of your abilities and will ask further when needed, and, even if apart, is fully aware of the lives of his children in detail.
Your father is "only" 80. To you that is quite old but to himself, he is in his prime. Yes. He will reveal his wishes when the time comes as he sees fit.
Your concerns are all valid and respectful, but perhaps, the timing is a bit eager. It is difficult to want to help but feel incapable and not listened to but, for now, your place is simply to wait and be available as a respectful son.
An inheritance is a gift of a legacy and to be accepted graciously. To ask to be taken off a will is as though one wants to be disowned or disowns one's parent.
Retirement planning is similar to discussions of death and to a senior asian, "dao mei". . . (bad luck, omen), it is a age and generation barrier.
These are some random thoughts that may be helpful to you.
I hope you will notice by my advice and context that I am very very familiar with your dilemna, businesswise, real estate empire, and culturally.
Within the context of your questions I have tried to give "actionable" ideas of business relationships and strategies within the format allowable in this forum.
Feel free to "PM" me to ask any questions that may be construed as not within the forum protocols.
Good luck,
j
Edit: Dynamics here are not unlike the novel, "Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan. A study of culture and generational changes and obstacles.
Last edited by Sandtrap on Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

veindoc
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by veindoc » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:16 pm

I wonder if it will even be an issue. Since his wife is considerably younger, chances are she will outlive him and inherit the entirety of his assets. If it is true as you state that he probably does not have an intact will designating what goes where, it is even more likely she will inherit everything. When his wife passes, she may leave everything to her son.

It's unclear from your post what your concerns are. Has your father asked your help with regard to the business? If you were to inherit the business, couldn't you just liquidate it?. Since wife is involved with book-keeping, she could manage it while the sale is being sorted out.

The fact that he is married I think will help absolve you of any responsibility once he passes.

ABQ4804
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by ABQ4804 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:19 pm

Duplicate
Last edited by ABQ4804 on Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

tim1999
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by tim1999 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:49 pm

I once worked for one of these "empire owners" in his late 70s. Eventually he realized the day was going to come when he could not drive, would have less physical mobility, lessened mental capacity, etc. Not wanting to burden his survivors with selling or dismantling a fairly complicated business (and thinking they would probably get misled or ripped off), he sold out to a much large industry member who wanted to expand geographically into his area. Perhaps your dad isn't quite there yet but I have to think the thought has crossed his mind. I take it he is "hands on" and isn't paying a manager to oversee day to day operations.

huangtiger11
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by huangtiger11 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:41 pm

Thank you all and appreciate especially Sandtrap's wisdom. Yes, I am the eldest son. It is pretty evident that I have grown up in the United States and have little in the way of my home country's customs and cultures. And yes, I believe he is in good hands with his youthful wife.
I am always impressed by this forum members' insights and thoughtful responses.

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Pajamas
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by Pajamas » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:44 pm

Seems like your sister would be the appropriate one to discuss this with him since she kept his books previously and you are not close to him.

It would be easiest to just stay out of it completely instead of making it your problem unasked. If you are left something that you don't want when he dies, you can just decline to accept it, and he will never know.

Carefreeap
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by Carefreeap » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:51 pm

tim1999 wrote:I once worked for one of these "empire owners" in his late 70s. Eventually he realized the day was going to come when he could not drive, would have less physical mobility, lessened mental capacity, etc. Not wanting to burden his survivors with selling or dismantling a fairly complicated business (and thinking they would probably get misled or ripped off), he sold out to a much large industry member who wanted to expand geographically into his area. Perhaps your dad isn't quite there yet but I have to think the thought has crossed his mind. I take it he is "hands on" and isn't paying a manager to oversee day to day operations.
And this would be an option for his heirs as well. Say the OP's father lives another 10 years. His youngish wife will be approaching 70 and might not want to keep being the bookkeeper anymore and enjoy the rest of her life.

inbox788
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by inbox788 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:40 pm

huangtiger11 wrote:Concerns:
Records/bookkeeping was a nightmare when my sister was involved in the past and suspect some of it persists.
He has had attorneys and CPAs but I was not impressed. I had concerns when I was asked to help set up a "Charitable" fund after the sale of one of his properties.
Doubtful there is a an up-to-date will.
I am not real estate savvy and probably would not know what I was looking at if I were to inquire further. :confused
...
Is it common for a charity to be handed an estate with poor records, documentation? Is it the sole role of the executor? Is there help if one is not familiar with the business? What do you do with all of the employees/partners?
Sounds like quite a quagmire, but stepping into it now may not be the wisest option. Plan on uncovering all the issues when the time comes and consider any advance planning a gift.

What was this Charitable fund and what were the issues? Why the quotes? Who owned the property? What were the complications? Were there lawyers and accountants involved? Was it incorporated? Partnership?

If the empire is as large as it sounds, you need to build up your own army of trusted advisors and professionals if you're really going to get involved in any way. When the time comes, if a professional executor or trustee isn't involved, maybe it's something to consider as there may be legal issues with the family as well as business partners.

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Watty
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by Watty » Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:35 am

One tactic you might try to make it easier to talk about this is to ask for his advice in setting up your own estate plans since you are at the point where you will be retiring soon. That might lead to talking about his estate plans and how they would effect your plans.

It was likely a different culture but I know someone whose parents were in the US Japanese internment camps during World War II which was before he was born. That was something that was never talked about when he was growing up and even when he was an adult. The few times he brought it up there was little said about it other than it had happened.

Much to his surprise one time one of his kids asked the Grandparents about it when they were in their early teens teens and the Grandparents freely talked about the internment camps with the Grandkids. Apparently the dynamics and cultural restrictions were a lot different between those generations and than with their own son.

There would be be all sorts of pros and cons but if there is an appropriate grandkid or great grandkid then it might be possible for your dad to hire them as an assistant that could learn about the family business so someone would know more about it.

If things are messy when he passes then I would not be quick to just give it to a charity since it could be liquidated and used to set up a family trust for future generations. This would not need to take a lot of work on your part since you could just hire managers and lawyers to make it happen. The fees would be high but they would likely earn them and do better job than you could even if you wanted to. If you were sick and unable to do the work of settling his estate you could figure out a way to hire people to do it for you. There is no reason that you could not hire people like that to that even if you are not sick.

mouses
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by mouses » Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:52 am

Random thoughts:

Laws vary in different states, but I would not assume that if he dies without a will, his wife gets everything. A portion may be required to go to his children.

Being an executor for an estate in good shape is a lot of work. I was an executor for an estate the previous executor made a mess of, I can't imagine what it would be like to try to straighten out your father's estate.

If it is such a mess, how are taxes being handled now? Might a giant bill for unpaid taxes be in the future?

I would ask your father if he wants his businesses to continue after he passes. If he does, he has to come up with a plan, possibly with help, for that to happen, and the businesses have to be organized now. If he isn't willing to do that, then they won't survive him.

As others have noted, you can walk away from all this after he dies. I believe it then falls on some unfortunate person the state appoints to straighten out the mess.

As long as you kids do not need the inheritance, I would not stress out about this. He seems to be enjoying himself, so that's a good thing as long as it lasts. Maybe he'll live to a hundred, working away.

fantasytensai
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by fantasytensai » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:02 am

If you really, really don't care about the money or the business, then my suggestion is to act that way and let the chips fall wherever they might.

Money comes between family, and strangely, the more money the family has, the more that money comes between them. Rich and powerful men tend to develop trust issues, and sometimes it's best to not give them any reason to act on it.

My $0.02.

huangtiger11
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by huangtiger11 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:47 pm

OP here.
Thanks again for further advice and angles. Passive approach seems to be wining out and I like that but probably best to make family visits.

betablocker
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by betablocker » Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:11 pm

I think the best you can do is find a lawyer who has dealt with similar situations. That person can give you an idea of what will happen and what the trade offs will be. You'll also know who to call when the time comes. I'd also add to that an accountant who has real estate/hotel experience and has had to clean up other organizations. You can get an idea of the costs and typical timeline and process for these sorts of things. I think it's incumbent on all business owners to deal with these issues and all parents but unfortunately it's common that they don't.

bigred77
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by bigred77 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:35 pm

mouses wrote: Laws vary in different states, but I would not assume that if he dies without a will, his wife gets everything. A portion may be required to go to his children.

Being an executor for an estate in good shape is a lot of work. I was an executor for an estate the previous executor made a mess of, I can't imagine what it would be like to try to straighten out your father's estate.
It sounds like his assets are heavy in real estate. That is considered Real Property and without a will each property will be subject to each state's laws regarding descent and distribution, depending on which state each property is physically located in. These laws can be pretty different from one to another but with a second wife and kids from a previous marriage things can get very complicated very quick. In one state the wife might get 100% of his ownership and in another the kids may get 100% of his ownership divided equally.

I assume there's a good chance these properties are owned via one or more (probably more) LLC's or LP's or some other kind of legal entity. This would probably have an impact (hopefully simplifying things some).

I would encourage the father to at least some estate/succession planning so his wishes are carried out as he desires (with sympathies to cultural norms and differences).

staythecourse
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by staythecourse » Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:37 pm

Not directed to just you, but to many of these type of posts are why do folks feel they need to intervene when they are neither asked to nor has the indiviual everyone has worried about been deemed incompetent.

Folks should be able to do what they want with their own money and if that means losing it by being swindled then so be it. It is their money. If you want to start vetting attorneys, CPA's, etc... then you have to be willing to jump all in and take on an active role in the company otherwise don't get involved.

What is the worst that happens anways? He loses his entire estate when he dies. So who cares. He is dead at that time. The folks who have most at stakes (his current wife) gauranteed has realized all of your current concerns as it affects her the most when the time comes. So I am sure she already has a plan in place.

You are not close to him and don't want the money so who cares what he does with it. That is his wife's responsibility.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

halfnine
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by halfnine » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:51 pm

I think Sandtrap made some great comments but then again your culture may not be the same as your parents. I'd consider sitting down with your spouse and determining what your both feel your cultural obligations are for your father and also to some extent your siblings. There is always the possibility that your father will ask more of you in the future and now might be the time for you to figure out where the limits of your obligations lie.

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lthenderson
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by lthenderson » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:24 pm

If I or my siblings didn't really need the money, I would just wait until his death to see who actually inherits what and then I would hire somebody to do all the work liquidating the assets and mail me a check when it was over.

Gill
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Re: Father runs an empire at age 80; not my business?

Post by Gill » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:39 pm

At such time as he dies while still managing this business, I would strongly urge you to contact one of the major corporate fiduciaries in the US who are skilled at managing and liquidating closely held businesses. It appears it would be nearly impossible for any individual, law firm, or smaller corporate fiduciary to manage this situation. I am most familiar with a major Chicago based bank with offices around the US and the world. They have a closely held business division for just such situations and an impressive history of managing a number of businesses in the US with which you would be familiar.
Gill

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