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Subject: When a board member dies
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(New York)


08/31/2020 5:44 PM  
I own a property in a co-op building in Manhattan. One board member, who worked for the property manager (and the property manager owned about 10% of the apartments in the building), very sadly, died recently. The board member who died was not the president, but he ran elections, picked board members, etc., so he was very important. The board didn't make an announcement about it, and the board is not holding an election to fill the seat. Based on past practice, the board won't ever solicit candidates for the seat, even at the next election cycle.

This is not in violation of the co-op's governing documents, but if a board member dies, wouldn't it be normal to let residents know, even so they can attend the funeral or express sympathies to the board member's family?

This board usually doesn't disclose much information. Owners don't seem to care, and I have zero interest in running a building, but not letting owners know that a board member has died just seems on the strange side of things.


08/31/2020 5:51 PM  
Maybe. If that happened in my HOA I'm sure the current board wouldn't make any sort of announcement. They'd just depend on word-of-mouth to eventually spread the news. That would happen pretty quickly all by itself without any help from the board.


08/31/2020 5:54 PM  
We haven't had that happen, but had a director resign last week. Our annual election is soon so we won't fill the vacancy. I assume the president will thank him for his service in his monthly newsletter column. But maybe not. We just learned that this director made a major architetural change without authorization.

Last year, with a different board, a man who'd been our onsite manager assist. for 3 years and who'd resigned a few weeks earlier took his own life. He wsa dear to many, but the Board didn't inform the community in any way. I really don't know what is typical.


08/31/2020 6:22 PM  
Whenever a owner dies I put it on our Facebook page. It is also put in the next newsletter. If an owner, parent, spouse, child, or grandchild dies we give a plant or memorial contribution to the charity listed in the obituary. $20.

We didn't want people collecting for flowers for one person and not for another (it happened in the past). So this is what we started doing. We only have 48 people and everyone knows everyone else. If we had 300 I don't think we would do anything.


08/31/2020 7:05 PM  
Posted By ChrisE8 on 08/31/2020 5:44 PM
This is not in violation of the co-op's governing documents, but if a board member dies, wouldn't it be normal to let residents know, even so they can attend the funeral or express sympathies to the board member's family?
The New York Nonprofit Corporation statute does not require that the board fill the vacancy. If your co-op's governing documents also do not require the board to fill the vacancy, then I see no violation of the law. Nor do I know of any other lawful duty the board has to announce any death.

I think you are talking about what you feel good manners dictate. Perhaps there are other forums, pertinent to etiquette, that might like to give you support on your point. I would not judge the directors of this co-op one way or another for a failure to announce the death of this director.


08/31/2020 7:44 PM  
Posted By GeorgeR8 on 08/31/2020 6:22 PM
Whenever a owner dies I put it on our Facebook page.

I would strenuously object to that. No one should be subject to someone else putting their name on any Facebook page without their consent. And after they've passed away, I'd really question the propriety of that.

After a homeowner here wanted to organize a "bereavement committee" a couple of years ago, there was an outcry of sorts. No one wants to be uncharitable, but our governing documents do not permit the association to spend money on charitable contributions. There's a competing need for every dollar spent in our budget and spending it on smpathy cards or flowers isn't something an association should be doing unless the governing documents explicitly allow such.

If neighbors want to donate to a card or a gift basket, or whatever, they should be encouraged to do so. On their own dime. Forcing all owners to "donate" seems wrong. You're an association not-for-profit, not a charity.


08/31/2020 8:22 PM  
It is a hard call. Me personally I would announce the person passed away and provide details on the service. However, if the family has requested it be kept private then I would honor that.

You kind of can't hide that this person has died. People are going to eventually ask questions. It also may be too soon for the other board members to rationalize what all of this means. It may take a bit of time to figure things out. Speak up and maybe be the person to do that.

My father died when I had just announced to everyone was going on vacation for a week at work. So I was on "vacation" to my co-workers. I had called by bosses to let them know that my father had died and it was no longer a "vacation". I came into work and everyone kept asking how my vacation was. Plus did not get a single card or company didn't even send my family flowers. Which made my step mother a bit upset. It turns out my bosses had decided the loss of my father was "Private" and did not announce a thing! They had sent emails out in the past of new employees whom parents had passed who only worked there for a few weeks. I had been there a few years!

So yes I do find it a bit painful for people not to acknowledge someone's passing. Don't worry, I posted my father's obituary next to my boss's door for everyone to see. Plus I turned in my notice not long after that... Oh and when asked why I left? You got it... Nothing like a good guilt trip to set things right...

Former HOA President
(New York)


09/01/2020 2:20 AM  
Thanks, everyone; yes, this was more an etiquette question. I see that making no announcement can be viewed as normal, with the posts above. MelissaP1, really sorry for your loss.


09/04/2020 4:47 AM  
Aside from the etiquette question, doesn't the board have to announce the vacancy? On my board if a vacancy occurs before a term has been served the board may appoint another director to serve the remainder of the term, and then an election must be held. Doesn't any of that apply here?


09/04/2020 6:43 AM  

The key word is "may"

This means it's optional, not a requirement.


09/04/2020 11:42 AM  
Jeff, I agree with Tim. The board may do that if it wants, but there's nothing that says the board must do it. If the homeowners think it should be done, they can lobby the board to select a replacement to fill the vacancy.


09/04/2020 11:53 AM  
During my 10 years on the board, we had one pass away and made an announcement in our newsletter after we received information from the family. It wasn't a big deal at all. Three passed away after I left the board and there were announcements in our newsletter and later our website (after we tossed the newsletter), and that wasn't a big deal either. If anything, I think it's nice to at least acknowledge someone's passing and express thanks for his or her service, but that's just me.

You say this person ran the election and picked the board members, and the remaining ones won't even announce the spot is open? And no one seems to care about this? If that works for you, ok, but I do hope you're at least getting regular updates on what the board is doing so you don't get any weird surprises. If not, you and your neighbors should remember you've been ok with not even trying to run for a spot - and therefore you may get what you deserve.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > When a board member dies

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