Based on preliminary news reports, M. Richard Robinson, Jr., the head of Scholastic Corp., died suddenly this past June while he was out on a walk in Martha’s Vineyard. Scholastic Corp. is estimated to be worth $1.2 billion and is one of the largest publishers of children’s books in the world, including the Harry Potter novels and The Magic School Bus series.
The surprise that Robinson left behind was a Will that supposedly provides for control of the company to pass not to his family members, but to his employee (chief strategy officer)/romantic partner. (He also left all of his personal possessions to her rather than his family.) You might say that Robinson failed to properly provide for the succession of his valuable business. However, you could also say that he did provide for his desired business succession, just not the one that his family members wanted.
We do not know if Robinson’s estate plan was well-planned and implemented, so we do not yet know how all of this will likely work out. However, take it from this long-time estate planner, the succession of a family business can lead to a lot of drama if it is not properly thought out, legally papered and implemented. Of course, it may turn out that Robinson did all the right things, and the family will just be unhappy. Time will tell. But, one thing is for sure, this drama is only getting started!