Your entire career has been dedicated to servicing others in their financial objectives, retirement income goals and estate planning. You know the conversation backward and forward on how to assist any number of unique situations—after all, your own goals align with helping your clients achieve their goals. The same can be said to those who run their own practice: you love what you do, and you love creating dynamic solutions to people’s retirement problems.

After a long and steady career, though, have you even thought about your own retirement? You’ve been so concerned about others’ you may have forgotten to take care of your own retirement and the succession planning for your business.

Succession planning is critical. Your options decrease over time, so the sooner planning begins, the greater the likelihood most of your business and personal objectives will be met. Starting succession planning early also provides the opportunity to make changes to the plan when necessary.

If you’re not sure of where to even begin with planning the succession of your business, consider this business succession-planning checklist to start. It may be able to help you develop the foundation for a smooth transition.

1. Establish Your Goals

Consider the following:

  • Importance of family involvement in leadership and ownership of the company.
  • Personal retirement goals and cash-flow needs.
  • The need for an outside facilitator.
  • Establishing a team of professional advisors (attorney, CPA, bankers, financial advisors, insurance specialist).

 

2.Make Some Decisions

  • Involve family members in the decision-making process.
  • Establish a method for dispute resolution.
  • Document the succession plan in writing.
  • Communicate your succession plan to family and stakeholders.

 

3.Determine Successors

Identify:

  • Successors—both managers of the company and owners of the business.
  • Required training for the successor(s)—provide that training.
  • If the retiring owner will remain involved in the business.

 

4.Estate Planning

  • Address taxation implications to the owner/business upon sale or transfer of ownership.
  • Does your estate have enough liquidity to pay for estate taxes?
  • Have you considered a buy/sell agreement?
  • Develop estate and personal financial plan for owner, spouse and succeeding generation.

 

5.Consider Transfer Methods and Corporate Structure

Various options should be generated and considered to address as many family and business needs as possible. At a minimum, one needs to consider the following and document your conclusion:

  • Method of transfer may include outright purchase, gift/bequest, or a combination thereon.
  • If the business is to be purchased, financing options need to be considered, including financing from an external party or if the previous owner will hold the loan.
  • If the business will be purchased, ensure the business can generate adequate after-tax cash flow to support debt and interest payments.
  • Tax strategies and implications.
  • Legal implications.
  • Business structure options (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.)
  • Business agreements.
  • Insurance needs (health, life, disability, etc.) have been considered.

 

6.Contingency Planning

  • Identify potential problem areas.
  • Dispute/conflict resolution mechanisms have been considered and addressed in business agreements.
  • Develop “what-if” scenarios, including action plans.
  • Do you have a plan in the case you become permanently disabled?

 

Business Valuation

  • Obtain appraisal to determine fair market value of business and real estate.

 

8.Exit Strategy

  • Determine method of transfer.
  • Establish a timeline for implementation of the succession plan.
  • Publish the plan so the affected individuals are aware.
  • Communicate regularly with all affected parties.

 

9.Implementation/ Follow Up

  • Be sure a timetable has been established and is being followed.
  • Review the plan on a regular basis and update as necessary.

 

10.Document Maintenance

Ensure all of the follow documents are maintained and updated in a file:

  • Legal will.
  • Power of attorney(s).
  • Property deeds/titles, leases, rental agreements etc.
  • Mortgages and notes payable.
  • Tax returns, financial records and financial statements for the last five years.
  • Bank, brokerage, savings and retirement account information.
  • Contact listing of all professional service advisors.

 

If you are ready to begin your business succession planning, contact us at CreativeOne. We have partnered with SuccessionLink, the leading marketplace for financial advisors looking to buy, sell or merge their business. This partnership also gives financial advisors the tools to provide an accurate valuation for your business and begin the steps to ensure your success anonymously.

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