How do I protect the finances of the Successor of my Business?

Here are ways to protect your successor financially.

  • Allow the potential successor to get involved in managing important team projects. Try to increase the successor’s financial insights and general responsibilities over time. Allow independence while ensuring that the right professionals assist the successor, such as a good accountant and insurance agent.
  • Consider visiting other family businesses that have transferred their business through continuity planning.
  • Establish mentors and advisors for the successor. Consider setting up a board of directors if one is not in place. Implement leadership training programs.
We do not suddenly become what we do not cooperate in becoming.— William J. Bennett

Protect your assets during Succession in the following ways:

  • Cover your key persons. Use life and disability insurance to cover the cost of replacing an owner, successor, contingent successor, or a key executive in the event of death or disability.
  • Ensure debt redemption. Life insurance proceeds can pay off bank loans and other liabilities—paid at the owner’s death. Also, consider critical illness insurance, which would pay up to $2,000,000 if the proprietor were to become critically ill.
  • Provide income replacement insurance.  Disability insurance benefits can provide income to an owner, successor, or key executive if disabled over specific periods. The payment paid as a benefit to a disabled insured, places less payroll burden on the company.
  • Fund a buy-sell agreement. Life and disability insurance proceeds can fund a buy-out upon death or disability, where two or more owners are in business (effective for current or succeeding generations).
  • Fund a stock redemption. When other members of the family own stock, you can buy life insurance for the owner and make the successor the beneficiary. This will provide cash upon the owner’s death to allow the successor to buy the stock of, say, sisters or brothers, based on a pre-determined formula related to equalizing the estate.
  • Fund capital gains tax liabilities. If significant capital gains will impair the company, reduce personal assets, or disallow a legacy of a cottage or other asset, use a permanent life insurance product designed to pay off all capital gains liabilities.
  • Create capital to equalize your estate. In the future event where one child will inherit the company, life insurance can be purchased by the owner or spouse to pay the non-involved children a tax-free cash benefit in predetermined amounts, clear of probate. To avoid resentment, you can inform these children that they will be treated fairly in the overall estate.
Let him, who would move the whole world, first move. — Socrates

Maintain relationships during succession

  • Keep your banker informed. What would your banker do if something happened to your firm’s current owner? Who else knows of the company’s loans or actual financial status? Introduce your successor (and the succession plan) to your banker and review all the company liabilities. Reveal your life insurance planning to the banker that can offset liabilities in the balance sheet.
  • Sustain client relationships. Introduce your successor early on to your key clients. Perhaps host client appreciation events.
  • Harmonize the successor with the constituency. The key players will help the company survive, including critical suppliers, influential families within and without; shareholders you hope will seek minimal dividends instead of future growth; employees, especially those holding company stock; and the key executives.
  •  Diversify sources of retirement income. Keep your retirement investments separate from your business. Consider purchasing segregated funds, separating your assets from the company while reducing exposure to creditors. Avoid investing your profits into the business without developing your independent retirement resources. Thus, you will not need to rely on the company to create an ongoing retirement income, though you may receive dividends and income from the business.
  • Move towards financial independence of your business. Though you leave a legacy to your successor(s), you can ensure that the inheritance will have sufficient funds to survive during and after the succession. Drawing from your retirement savings can reduce dependency on business income (or dividends).


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