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The Consequences of Neglecting Succession Planning

Posted by James Burns | Mar 24, 2024 | 0 Comments

Ignoring succession planning can lead to a myriad of problems. In the absence of a clear plan, businesses may face leadership vacuums, operational disruptions, and conflicts among potential successors or family members. This lack of direction can result in diminished business value, loss of customer confidence, and potential job losses for employees. For professional corporations, the situation can be even more complex, as these entities often require leaders or key persons to hold specific licenses to operate legally.

The Importance of Continuity

Continuity is the backbone of any successful succession plan. It ensures that the business remains operational and maintains its value, even in times of transition. A well-thought-out plan outlines the steps to be taken when a key person, whether due to retirement, disability, or death, exits the business. It identifies potential successors and prepares them to take over seamlessly, minimizing disruptions.

For professional corporations, continuity also means having a licensed professional ready to step in. This is crucial because, without someone holding the necessary license, the business might not be able to operate legally, risking its very existence.

Creating a Written Succession Plan

Creating a comprehensive written succession plan involves several key steps:

  1. Identify Potential Successors: For both leadership and key roles within the organization, identify individuals who have the potential and desire to take over. This can include family members, employees, or external candidates.


  1. Development and Training: Once potential successors are identified, develop a training plan to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge. For professional corporations, this includes ensuring they obtain any required licenses.


  1. Legal and Financial Structuring: Consult with legal and financial experts to structure the succession plan. This involves drafting legal documents that clearly outline the succession process and any conditions tied to it.


  1. Communication: Transparently communicate the plan with all stakeholders, including family members, employees, and key customers, to manage expectations and reduce uncertainties.


For more information take a look at this article on Succession Planning.




Funding Strategies for Transition

Ensuring there is capital and liquidity during the transition is crucial. Two common strategies include funding a buy/sell agreement and taking out keyman life insurance policies.

  • Buy/Sell Agreement: This legal contract among owners outlines what happens if an owner dies, is forced to leave the business, or chooses to exit. It typically includes terms on how the business share will be valued and sold. Funding this agreement often involves setting aside reserves or purchasing life insurance policies on the owners so that cash is available to buy out the departing owner's interest.


  • Keyman Life Insurance: This policy is taken out on key individuals within the company. In the event of their death or incapacitation, the policy provides the business with a financial payout, which can be used to cover the cost of finding or training a replacement, or to provide liquidity during a period of transition.


Ideas on how to fund you Keyman or Buy/Sell agreements in a cost-effective way while ensuring you have enough coverage is covered in this article- financed life insurance premiums.

Ensuring a Smooth Transition

Implementing a succession plan and funding strategy ensures that the business can continue to provide income for family members or maintain its value until it is sold. However, transitioning a business is a process that can take time. Patience and careful planning are required to chart the course forward.

Sometimes succession planning involves an exit and when you consider this you'll want to make sure you keep as much of your hard earned asset as possible as combined capital gains rates on your capital asset can quickly erode if the sales or transfers of your business is not strategically conducted.

See these connected articles:

See Selling a business in California.

Charitable exit tools.

Capital gain deferral tools.

In conclusion, ignoring business succession planning can lead to significant risks and missed opportunities. A well-crafted succession plan not only secures the future of the business but also protects employees, customers, and the family of the business owner. By taking a proactive approach to succession planning, including funding strategies for transition, businesses can ensure continuity, maintain their value, and support all stakeholders during times of change. For businesses looking to navigate these complex waters, the Law Office of James Burns can offer invaluable assistance. With expertise in succession planning, James Burns can help chart a course that ensures total peace of mind. Reach out at (949) 305-8642 or visit for more information on how to secure the future of your business with a comprehensive succession plan.

About the Author

James Burns

Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Business and Real Estate Transactions, nutraceutical Law and franchising:


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