The Business Standard in an article has covered the Oswal family story. It states that after the untimely death of Abhey Oswal in Moscow, his wife Aruna Oswal took over the reins of the two family companies, Oswal Agro Mills and Oswal Greentech, as she was the nominee. This has been disputed by the eldest son, Pankaj who claims that he had been appointed as the family heir, in a family function where he was made to wear the traditional pagdi of the family. This has raised a difference of opinion between the mother and son.
While not going into the specifics of the case, let us examine one fact in this case, which brings forth an issue which is pretty common with business families. It is stated in another article on rediff.com where Pankaj states that his father did not leave behind a will.
This brings forth a subject which is very touchy but is also responsible for wrecking family relationships, that of not having a will. The article states that the “spin doctors, advisors and lawyers have been hired and consulted” and it appears that both sides are readying their respective sides for a battle.
Which brings us to the following facts, which family patriarchs have to consider, in the absence of wills.
Battles do not help families: If these are long drawn, (and they usually are), they extract a great price from each one, in terms of mental bandwidth and financial losses. The results may come out eventually, but this could be at a cost of wounded relationships. Any success if at all, could prove to be just a pyrrhic victory.
They don’t help businesses either: The businesses are also the victims of this fight as they are forced to hold and wait, until clarity is apparent. On the other hand, professionally run businesses may be forced into the battle, which may be purely a family matter, and this could soak up funds from the business. The management could be distracted from running the business and more involved in what is happening to the family dispute.
Relationships get affected: As most of the family and business is forced to take sides, sometimes with incomplete information thus affecting the social environment. Given the fact, that most families operate in very socially connected environments, this could become tricky.
We plan our lives but hold back, when it comes to planning our businesses and family relationships: Let us understand this, a family will actually gives clarity to the family members on the intentions of the patriarch (or matriarch) and helps resolve situations. Sure, there are disputes on the wills also, but this is in some cases, but most times, the wishes are taken and executed. This ensures that the family relationships are maintained.