Question: I want to retire in the next couple of years do I pass my business to my children or not?
Answer: Transition Planning is a very personalized process. The "founder" needs to analyze the commitment, skill set, and leadership ability of one or more of his/her children. You then need to meet with your estate planning attorney and accountant and any others on your financial planning team to determine what is best for your family. Naturally, we all want to believe that the business we worked so hard to build would be passed on to our children. Which children and the fairness to children unemployed by the family business needs to be carefully considered. Whether to use voting and nonvoting stock, or whether to gift or to sell, and when is the appropriate time to give up "control" are but a few of the issues needful of consideration.
Succession Planning has to be an objective process which asks hard questions about whether any of your heirs have the right talents or the interest and work ethic to maintain the success that you have spent a lifetime achieving. You and your estate planning team should sit down with your family and discuss the issues. Based on these discussions, you and your attorney can create the necessary legal plan to reflect what is in the best interests of all involved. Failing to plan may leave your family in jeopardy by your untimely death fostering sibling rivalry and acrimony. Deal with this proactively.As originally printed in the Journal of Business - Spokane, in January 2011. Jim Black
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