The Death of a Friend

A long-time (25+ years) client and friend died recently. Since Memphis ceased to be a hub for Delta, one can’t fly there reasonably time-wise, so I drove more than 400 miles to the funeral. I’m glad I did. If you ever need to offer a service, we will like to recommend you checking out

Funerals are no fun, but they are a wonderful cause for reflection and remembrance for both family and friends.

My focus on this blog is with owners of successful closely held and family businesses. My friend’s business was one of these. He held out on considering us or me as anything but a resource for a required annual valuation for many years. Long after I had given up the account, one of our seniors called me and asked me to participate in a conference call with this client. It seems that he was ready to talk about some of the things I tried to talk about over a number of years.

Two key issues were this friend’s lack of liquidity outside of his ownership in the business, and the need to change the tax status of the corporation. We talked and agreed to work together.

  • It is possible to create liquidity outside a closely held or family business without selling the business? In fact, there are a number of potential strategies to do this, either over time, or at a point in time. He/we did. His family is glad that he/we did. My friend’s wife is financially independent, regardless of the future of the company after his death. If the company continues to prosper, so much the better. And the company has long-since repaid the debt for the transaction.
  • Can an adviser brow-beat a client? If it can be done, I did. The company elected S-corporation status. And the company’s employees have benefited to the tune of several millions of dollars from the change in the tax status of the company.

I can reflect and remember that we helped this client and friend accomplish some things that are far better being done now, at his death, than not. That is personally satisfying. I know that his family and employees are better off for the changes that we made together a number of years ago.

My friend was in his 80s. He waited a long time to take on these and other issues. You don’t have to wait so long.

Funerals are, indeed, occasions for reflection and remembrance. Don’t miss the funerals of your friends. You’ll be blessed for being there.

Feel free to call me or another of your trusted advisers if this short post raises questions or focuses on issues you are currently facing. Your call (901-685-2120) or email ( and any subsequent conversations will be in complete confidence.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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