Until recently, my best friend and his brother ran a very successful joinery business.
Four weeks ago, the brother collapsed and died. He had an aneurysm. No one could have predicted it or done anything to stop it. He was in his early 40s and left behind a wife and two small children. As you can imagine, everyone was deeply shocked.
My best friend is now working twelve-hour days, six days a week to deal with the jobs his brother would have done. When I saw him recently I thought he looked exhausted, so I asked him why he didn’t employ somebody. He answered that the business couldn’t afford to take someone on of his brothers skill set and still pay his late brother’s wife an income.
His brother did have life assurance, which paid off the mortgage. He explained that he was paying his brother’s wife £4,000 a month to replace the lost income. I asked if that was what they had agreed in the articles of association, he looked at me blankly. I asked if they had shareholder protection in place. Again, he looked at me blankly.
He intends to keep paying his sister-in-law for as long as the business can afford it, because it’s the right thing to do, even if that involves him doing the work of two men. It is admirable of him, but it could so easily have been avoided.
My friend never wanted to engage a financial planner, he always said he didn’t see the value. Nothing is going to bring back his brother, but I can’t help but think that, with a little advice, he and his sister-in-law could be in a very different financial position right now.