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succession planning untimely death

Business Succession Planning: Unexpected Death

While planning for retirement is a fun part of the succession planning discussion, we must also cover the less pleasant subject of planning for an untimely death. Most of this information also applies to a permanent disability as well. According to Forbes, three out of five business owners are left vulnerable to consequences of an unexpected tragedy.

It’s April 30 and a business owner client of mine (Bill) has passed away and his spouse calls me. The spouse (Maria) is in a panic. She has never been active in the software Bill owned. Bill died of a stroke just 3 days prior. Maria just came to the realization that she didn’t know if there was money in the bank for payroll on May 4.

Together, we went through a series of discussions that day. I was able to give her all the contacts Bill and I shared with the law firm and financial planner. I was also able to provide information for his payroll service, banker, and the bookkeeper that worked on Bill’s software company. Bill’s management team shared the same concern. Who would run the company, oversee decision making, and make sure clients did not leave?

Planning for this situation, is a challenge as people do not like planning for these unfortunate events. However, there are a number of basic questions and scenarios to consider now. This will help make the situation easier on your surviving family members and employees.

Questions and Scenarios to Consider
  • Do you have life insurance in place that goes to the business to provide a boost to the company’s cash flow should something happen to you?
    • These funds could be used to hire a CEO or consultant to run the company while things are figured out.
  • Have you thought about what you want to happen to the business if you pass away?
    • If so, have you documented it in writing and shared it with your spouse, advisors, and/or management team?
      • Things like:
        • Would you want the management team to use life insurance to buy shares from your estate and run the business as owners?
        • Do you want to leave the business to your children and have them run it? Or hire a CEO to run it?
        • Should the business be liquidated and sold through an M&A transaction? If so, how do you incentivize the management team to stay during this time?

It is impossible to plan for every scenario a business could go through but it is helpful to consider a few possibilities. It is a business that you have built and no one knows better what you want the next phase to be of your legacy, than you. Begin this process today. Have discussions and documentation to help build a succession plan that stands up to many scenarios but provides flexibility as your life and business grow and change. Let us know if you need help with your business succession planning – set up a no-cost consultation today!

succession plan getting started

Business Succession Planning: Getting Started

The best time to have a succession plan in place is the day you start your business. If you do not already have a succession plan in place, today is the day. While many business owners believe getting started is difficult, it is quite simple. The majority of people think it can wait because it’s too big of a topic to cover. When creating a plan, remember to keep it simple and aim for progress, not perfection.

First, business owners need to consider what would ideally happen under two scenarios, retirement and death. The first is easier to think about for a lot of people, so we’ll start with that one and cover death in another post.

When considering retirement, business owners should think about it at least three to five if not ten to twenty-five years in advance. According to the Department of Labor, it is never too early to start planning for retirement. First, talk with your advisors and family, 3-5 years out. Your team of advisors should include your CPA, Attorney, and Financial Planner.

Conversation Starters for Your Team of Advisors:
  • What is my business worth today?
  • How much money do I need in retirement?
  • What can I do between now and my retirement date to build the business valuation?
  • What do I want to happen with the business when I retire?
    • Am I passing it to the next generation of family?
      • Will it be a gift?
      • Will it be bought with cash or over time?
    • Am I going to sell it?
      • Who are the potential buyers – individual buyers, financial buyers, or strategic buyers?
    • Should I let the management team run it, but I will own it still?
      • Are they capable?
      • What type of incentives do I need to put in place to make this work?
  • What am I going to do in retirement?
    • Am I going to stop working completely?
    • Will I do some consulting or gig-economy type work?

This is the starting point. Of course, there are many subsets of questions that will drive the conversation. Discuss these topics with your family to ensure everyone is aligned about what retirement looks like from a timing and lifestyle perspective. These questions can lead down many different avenues. Your team of advisors will guide you down the path that best fits your goals. Business succession planning is far from one-size-fits-all plan and more like a custom “one-size-fits-one”. Build a plan to satisfy your desires, needs, ambitions, employees, and family.

Not sure if you have the right team of advisors in place to help? Contact us today!

business succession why

Business Succession Planning: Why is it Important?

You may know what business succession planning is but do you know why it’s important?

It’s January 5th and I get a call from a client who wants to sell their business. They had a great holiday break and decided they no longer want to run their business. They do not want to deal with the headaches, stress, and people issues that accompany being a business owner. As their business advisor, I make the following statements and ask a few important questions:

  • Have you met with your financial planner to see if you have enough to retire?
  • Do you know what your business is worth?
  • Your business had a really bad year 2 years ago. Remember, almost all buyers will look back 3 years. This will hurt the value in the sale.
  • Does your executive team know?
  • Have you thought about incentivizing them to stay with the buyer?
  • What are you going to do next?
  • Most buyers of businesses your size, will use a loan to buy the business, and will require you to be out of the business in less than a year.

The list continues during the next few discussions with the client. It’s clear they have not thought of any of these, however they want to sell anyway. During the process, the valuation is lowered by the bad year they had, and a few members of the management team leave as they hear of the sale. The transaction closes after months of trying to sell and going through due diligence with a couple different buyers.

This scenario happens every year. Business succession plans help make sure that if you wake up on January 5 and decide to sell, you have the opportunity to easily answer these questions and many more. Having a plan in place will help you maximize the exit value when the times comes, and also make the process of selling or transitioning much easier for the business.

Contact us for a no-cost consultation to find out if your business is ready to be sold.

succession planning

Business Succession Planning: What is it?

From the day you start your business, you are focused on both present and future growth. However, many people never think of life after the business or succession planning until it’s too late. How do you know it’s too late? Typically, business owners don’t start thinking about this until a major life event occurs, they are burned out and need to sell, or someone comes knocking and wants to acquire their business. According to a Wilmington Trust Survey, 60% of business owners do not have a succession plan in place.

None of the times previously mentioned are the best time to start a succession plan or think about it, as you are under stress. The best time to put together a plan is when you start your business. If you didn’t do it then, the next best time is today!

What exactly is business succession planning? It starts with answering a series of questions with yourself, your family, your executives, and your advisors. The purpose is to make sure what you have built in your business continues on, not just for legacy, but for the people, and families, that you are providing a job to. There are a lot of critical things to think about in a succession plan. It helps you decide what happens to your business if something were to happen to you.

Does it go to management? Does it pass to your estate? Will the business just fold up and close? How is all of this planned both structurally and financially?

A succession plan is an iterative process. Business owners need to pick it up once a year and re-read to say, yes this still fits where I am in my life and where my business is, or it needs changes.

If you are a business owner without a succession plan in place, contact us to schedule a no-cost consultation.

5 Tips To Protect Your Financial Future

With the ever-changing tax laws, our principal members and staff work diligently to stay up-to-date and keep you informed of strategies that can help save and protect your financial future. As you’re gathering your tax documents, consider some of the tips below that can significantly help in protecting your future!

1. Determine which type of IRA is best for you.

If you’re fairly young, expect to be in a similar tax bracket when you retire, or are concerned about cash flow during retirement, the Roth IRA might be best for you. If you’re older and expect to be in a lower tax bracket, you may be a candidate for a deductible IRA.

For a side-by-side comparison of Traditional and Roth IRAs, click here.

2. Think about the best ways to gradually transfer your estate tax-free.

Consider establishing a gifting program under which you and your spouse can transfer a combined $28,000 each year to any number of recipients.

3. Contribute the maximum amount allowable to a tax-deferred retirement plan.

This includes “catch-up” contributions if you are 50 or older.

4. Create a business succession plan.

On average, only one in three closely held businesses successfully passes on to the next generation.

Click here for succession planning ideas and ways that you can help protect your company’s future.

5. Set up a trust to meet your long-term financial goals.

To get started, view these commonly used trusts.

For other tips and ways to protect your financial future, contact us today for your no-cost consultation!