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Part 2: Analyze and decide on a business succession strategy

In our last post, we discussed some of the challenges that face family businesses when transitioning between generations. Starting the succession planning process is often the toughest step. But failure to do so can limit the odds of continued success.

The information gathering phase involves learning about tax implications, estate planning tools available and business structure issues. You need to open the lines of communication, so you know who really wants to stay in the business. Candid conversations may be difficult, but they can reduce future discord.

Logic rather than emotion

You’ve built a successful business over the years, so you understand that decisions made solely on emotion can be the wrong ones. Once you understand where things stand for the business and your family, you can analyze possible ways to pass down the business.

Is one family member in the position to take over a leadership role? If one or more family members inherit the business, how can life insurance or lifetime gifts equalize the estate?

Failing to think about some issues such as business valuation could lead to estate and gift tax burdens for loved one. Our August 3 blog post explains the lengthy battle one family faced with the IRS over the valuation of an interest in a forestry operation.

Take time to make decisions

You may not be ready to start retirement or completely hand over the business, but you do need to make some difficult choices after doing the analysis. Take some time, so that you are not left second guessing decisions down the road.

Creating a timeline can be beneficial as you start implementing the plan. A meeting with family members and key people involved in the business is a good way to ensure everyone is on the same page. Bringing in the professionals who are assisting with the process can be beneficial at this step in the process.

In our next post, we will discuss adjusting and when you may need to revise your plan.

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