Householding Recommendations

Setting up your family relationships as you add contacts to your database will allow you to ensure that all contacts are properly linked to their family members.   There are a number of items to keep in mind when setting up these relationships and what follows are the items that we consider most helpful.

Family Head

When you link spouses and children, one of the spouses must serve as the Family Head.  Be aware that this designation of Family Head is automatically attributed to a contact record when you establish family relationships from within their record.  Understanding this will allow you to choose which contacts will serve as your Family Heads, as you can actively control from which records you establish your family relationships.  Full instructions for defining your family relationships can be found here.  We recommend that you choose as your Family Head the spouse with whom you deal primarily.  Note: you'll also want to click the Create a new family option within the Basic Information section for single contacts, in order to establish them as their own Family Heads.

Family Name

There is a Family Name field within each contact record with a Contact Type of Individual.  It's available for adding to a record by clicking Create a new family underneath their name and then typing in the Family Name and saving.  The Family Name field is particularly important if you intend to use Redtail to run labels or mail merges. Family Names should be entered for your Family Heads, but bear in mind that you would want to include a Family Name for single individuals as well.  You can read more about how to add and use the Family Name field here.  If you utilize the Family Name field, you can:

  • Run an Advanced Search for Heads of Household: Type: Family — Field: Head of Household — Operand: Equal To — Criteria: True 
  • The results you'll then see are all contact records that are Family Heads including single individuals.
  • You can then run a mail merge for those contacts only, which is important if you only want to send a piece of correspondence to a household once, i.e. you don't want to send the piece to both spouses, children, etc.
  • The Family Name field is also a valid Mail Merge Field, so it can be inserted into any mail merge templates you build.
  • Also, Labels that utilize the Family Name field are available.



When linking family members to a Family Head, your options for the relationship to establish are Spouse, Child, Grandchild or Other Dependent.  We recommend only linking contacts via a Family Relationship if they live under the same roof as the Family Head, i.e. only if you would want any accounts associated with those you are linking to the Family Head to be considered a part of the Family Head's Family Portfolio Value.  So, if the child is grown or the grandchild or other dependent lives elsewhere, you might instead consider linking them via Memberships.  Full instructions for defining Memberships can be found here.

Deceased Contacts

When one of your clients passes away, there are a number of steps we recommend you take within your database in order that you don't erroneously send out correspondence to or otherwise attempt to contact the deceased.  You can see those recommended steps here.

Some items in addition to those at the link above that you might consider:

Your client may have accounts which you would like to move into another record. Instructions for doing so are here.

Also, you may also want to move any notes from one spouse or family member to another's record. You can see the section of this post on Options --> Move Notes for information on how to move notes in bulk from one record to another.

Other Considerations

While one record will serve as Family Head, there will likely be cases where you deal with both spouses frequently.  You might consider when creating a Note for either spouse copying that Note to the other as well.  When you're adding a new Note for one of the spouses, you can do this by typing part of the spouse's name in the "Copy to another contact" box and then selecting their name when you see it.  When you save the Note, it will be added to both of their records.

If we host your email, you might also consider storing each of the spouse's email addresses in the other's record.  

If you elect to do this with Notes and/or Email Addresses, this would allow you to see all Notes and/or Emails for these spouses within each of their records.

These are the basics for establishing your familial relationships within Redtail.  Don't hesitate to let us know if you have additional questions about householding that are not covered here.

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