Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Legacy planning – The Wisdom of John J. Jodrey

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail featured in their obituary section John J. Jodrey who passed away on the 19th of February of this year at the age of 98.  What is remarkable of John Jodrey is not only that he loved roses and that he was humble and that he loved to dance and was incredibly successful at business but his wisdom.  Dear reader what I meant about his wisdom is that he had the foresight rarely seen in practice of overseeing the division of his family business empire prior to his death.  I will be honest -  I have not seen this in practice – a business leader with the wisdom to ensure that the empire he or she oversaw and built will continue though not as one entity but as separate entities. 

Businesses leaders tend to focus on growing their empires and assume that their empires will continue to flourish after their deaths and that their heirs will act as one unit.  Sadly to say this rarely happens. And dear reader I speak from experience.   If I look at my personal history – my grandmother’s brothers kept the litigation bar in Georgetown very busy.  They were always suing each other but at least they were civilized and utilized the courts.  In the Indian diaspora in the early 1920’s my grandmother’s brothers inherited 10 plantations (there were four brothers).  

My grandmother and her sisters each received a cow and no plantations.  Although the brothers inherited considerable wealth, they could never be in the same room and loathed the sight of each other.  If one brother was visiting my grandmother and another was at the front door, the visiting brother would leave through the back door.  The loathing was due to what they considered an unfair divvying up of the plantations amongst themselves.  After all not all the plantations were of equal size, good locations or equally productive. 

Blood sadly does not equate love.  In our family the cost of litigation took a toll and there is no evidence of the absurd wealth that existed in my grandmother’s time amongst the relatives descended from her brothers’ arm of the family.  This is why I admire John Jodrey.  He ensured his family’s wealth and legacy would survive by overseeing the division of his empire prior to his death.  Under the guidance of John Jodrey the Jodrey family were able to achieve a bloodless division of assets which the McCains, the Waxmans to name a few were not able to achieve.  For a good description of the wisdom of the Jodrey family please see .  And coming back to my family – if we had an ounce of the Jodrey wisdom –  my grandmother’s father should have diversified the wealth during his life time allowing for an easier division of assets with the division occurring during his life time and yes of course allowing  for his daughters to inherit more than a cow.

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