Four-i Weekly

The Green Box.

The Green Box

I’m grateful to my very good friend, coach and mentor, Bob Battye for sharing a story last week that stopped me in my tracks and really made me think.

I belong to a business group that’s similar in it’s methodology to Property Academy but comprises people from different businesses (eg, software, pub chain, cleaning products, care homes and several others – it’s diverse) and Bob is the Chair.

All of the members are on the “back nine” (ages range from 50-70) and so we address issues such as succession and inheritance as well as the business opportunities and challenges. At our last meeting Bob asked us whether we had a “Green Box” and went on to tell this story.

Australian businessman John McArthur called his son Jim to let him know that he’d be flying to New Zealand the following day to try to close an important business deal. Jim, a pilot in the Air Guard Reserve warned his father that potential typhoons can make travel hazardous. John laughed and reminded Jim that if anything tragic happened, to get the “Green Box” out of the wardrobe in his bedroom.

The next day, John was killed when his plane crashed into the side of a mountain on the North Island in very low visibility. Several days after the funeral, Jim remembered his father’s words about the Green Box. He called his mother and they brought the Green Box to the family solicitor. Inside, they found 28 envelopes. Here are the labels on the envelopes:

  1. Letter to my wife.
  2. Letter to each child.
  3. Letter to the employees.
  4. Letter to my mother.
  5. List of the most important 5 employees in the company and their strengths/weaknesses.
  6. Off balance-sheet deals.
  7. Organisational chart.
  8. Details of any company trusts.
  9. List of personal friends to be contacted.
  10. List of business people that should be contacted.
  11. Deals in process and evaluation of them.
  12. Strategy that I’m thinking about but haven’t told anybody about.
  13. List of trusted advisers and their roles (may or may not be currently working with the company) such as attorney, accountant etc.
  14. Instructions not addressed in will.
  15. Copies of POA documents.
  16. Copy of passport, birth certificate.
  17. Copy of all credit cards.
  18. Copy of physical property titles.
  19. Personal stock portfolio information.
  20. Details of life insurance.
  21. Details of all other insurances.
  22. Copies of personal property valuations (jewellery, antiques, collectables, etc).
  23. Computer passwords.
  24. Personal financial statement.
  25. Extra passport photos.
  26. Medical/dental charts.
  27. Funeral/burial instructions.
  28. Mementos and to whom they’re to be given.

Once I got over feeling a bit choked, I thought, “how considerate and helpful for loved ones at such a difficult time.”

I’m creating my own Green Box, you might like to as well.


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