Family Business Succession Planning is a Process

My clients would tell you that I am a bit of a “technocrat” when it comes to family business succession planning. I have always been intrigued by rolling GRATs, intra-family loans, installment sales to grantor trusts, etc. But I know, and my clients know, that the technical aspects of family business succession planning should be viewed as “icing on the cake.” The real, strategic work and the most important, high-level decisions, must be completed by the client (and his or her closest advisers) at the outset, before the tactical plan can take its final form.

If you are the owner of your own business, then you are probably already aware that you think differently about your business than does your son, your daughter, or your son-in-law. Even your spouse probably looks at the business differently than you do. Business owners who do not accept this fact are likely to make “simplifying assumptions” about their business succession planning that may lead to much less than optimal (and sometimes disastrous) results.

As a business owner, you are also probably already aware that business succession planning cannot be viewed as an “event.” It must be viewed as a process. It is a process that (if done correctly) will never be absolutely finished. However, as long as you are well advised regarding your options, and as long as you are confident in the decisions you are making, it will be an surprisingly rewarding process.

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