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Planning Your Family Business Legacy

These two experiences taught me a lesson about family businesses. Making a family business a family legacy takes planning and preparation. While each family business has its own unique issues, there are some common strategies associated with succession planning.

Sometimes, passing along your assets to the next generation is simply a matter of passing them along. You just let the gift and the potential represented by that gift be your legacy (emphasis on the "sometimes"). However, when the asset is a business, it is rarely that simple.

A business is not merely a thing. No, a business is a mindset, an activity and, oftentimes, even a lifestyle. It can get complicated. If your legacy is the family business, then with great responsibility comes the need for equally careful planning, preparation and dialogue.

Because every business is different, as every family is different and every individual is unique, what is right for a family business is something to be figured out and understood. That said, businesses have been coming and going for generations. Some have transferred successfully and others less so. Consequently, there are some tried and true strategies to consider when planning for your own family business succession.

Whether your objective is a sale, windup or succession, Forbes has provided a practical roadmap in a recent article titled "Six Steps For Making Your Business A Family Legacy."

Here are the six steps by heading alone:

  1. Give the family a reason to continue the family business
  2. Develop a management team
  3. Structure a business succession plan
  4. Fund the business succession plan
  5. Wealth replacement for other family members
  6. Have a successful business

So what is right for you, your family and your business? I recommend reading the original article and then consulting with your team of professional advisors. Your attorney, accountant, financial planner and insurance agent will each bring a valuable and unique skill set to the table.

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