Many entrepreneurs, when they take outside money into their company, want to protect themselves. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.
The investors putting the first money into the deal also want some protection, especially when the founders own a vast majority of the overall stock and probably have a majority of the board seats.
One of the items that entrepreneurs sometime request is a severance package. In Washington State DO NOT DO THIS. I don’t know about other states, but in Washington, the law apparently makes individual board members liable for any salary owed employees and not paid. For historical reasons, severance was considered salary in Washington. That would mean that board members might become liable for the severance of a fellow board member and company executive.
Clearly, this is a bad idea and the law needs to be changed.
But in the meantime, do not agree to a deal where there is a severance agreement.
I have modified my model term sheet to reflect this (http://drosenassoc.com/Model%20Term%20Sheet%20for%20Alliance%20of%20Angels%20revised%20May%202011.pdf).