When we first meet with a business owner and ask what will happen to his/her business upon death or disability, we usually get one of three answers:
- "What I want to happen is all in my head."
- "I'm never going to die."
- "I know planning is important but I just don't have time right now."
These answers have not served the families we’ve met with well. Because they didn't have proper planning, there weren’t sufficient assets to pay estate taxes. There weren’t employees properly trained to manage the business—so it failed. There was no plan of liquidity that allowed the disabled business owner to pull cash from the business to pay for the family's living expenses and medical bills.
Depending on your circumstances, an appropriate business succession plan may just require a well-thought-out estate plan with (or without) an appropriate shareholder’s agreement. However, the nature of your business may be such that a more sophisticated plan is required to ensure that your succession goals are met.
Effective business succession planning starts with an understanding of each client's business and goals. We want to know who key employees are, whether they are properly incented to stay with the company should something happen to the client, and whether there is a sufficient management team in place or if one needs to be built. We want to know to whom the client wants the business to go upon retirement or death and what the most efficient way of effecting that transition will be—whether it is to happen soon or not until after death.
We can then craft a well-developed business succession plan that is best for the client and his/her business.
We can create and implement a plan that will hep provide a smooth succession to key employees or family members or a smooth transition to an outside buyer while helping to provide continued financial support for the client's family.