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Note From the Editor: March 2021

Editor in Chief Susan R. Lipp discusses this month's issue.

Take a look at this month's Trust & Estates digital magazine where we explore the pandemics impact to small businesses and more.

It’s been almost a year since that fateful day when our office suddenly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I found myself working remotely from a sleepy little town in New Jersey. As I got accustomed to my new surroundings, I began rooting for and trying to support the few small family businesses (mostly restaurants) that were struggling to survive and trying to find creative ways to attract customers and stay open. For example, many made use of whatever outdoor spaces they had to expand the capacity for al fresco dining and gave customers the ability to scan their menus on their phones. 

My little community was a microcosm reflecting the struggles faced by family businesses during the pandemic. But, as illustrated by the real-life anecdotes described in “An Inside Look at Seven Family-Owned Businesses,” p. 42, by Patricia N. Soldano and Dawn S. Markowitz, many family businesses rose to the occasion, using innovative ways to keep their businesses afloat, assist their employees financially and help out their communities. For example, one company launched an ad campaign to spread awareness of local businesses that were remaining open. A catering business started a $35 three-meals-a-day delivery platform for senior citizens. The article is a testament to the ability of family businesses to survive under extremely difficult circumstances.

But, 2020 wasn’t just the year of the pandemic. It was also the year that many started to embrace the need for racial equality and inclusion and acknowledged the toll that centuries of divisiveness has had on our country. In their article “Embracing Diversity and Inclusion,” p. 38, Brett Dearing and Susan R. Schoenfeld explain how national trends toward increased diversity and inclusion of underrepresented populations translate to the family business and why family businesses should strive to be more diverse. 

Finally, this month’s issue also includes our Valuations Committee Report, with articles on an Internal Revenue Service initiative to more aggressively impose penalties on appraisers, taking advantage of new discount opportunities when planning with special purpose acquisition company securities and the impact of Nelson v. Commissioner on defined value language and tiered valuation discounts.

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