The purpose of this study is to advance the understanding of boards of directors in family firms. Building on generational changes in family attributes, we argue that firms in a different generational phase have different governance needs and characteristics. With regard to board task needs, the empirical results indicate a convex generational evolution in the need for board advice, and a rise over the generations in the need for board control. With regard to board composition, we find that the likelihood of having an outside director on the board has a convex generational trend. This relationship seems to be fully mediated by the firm’s board task needs. Furthermore, the number of family directors seems to increase over the generations. This study demonstrates that it is important to consider the generational phase of the family firm in order to understand its governance system.