If you have yet to put in place an estate and succession plan for your business, you’re going to leave the people you love most—your clients, your customers, your team, and your family—in the lurch when something happens to you. And while that probably won’t be tomorrow, it could be.
We get it—there are plenty of reasons to put off estate planning, and as business owners ourselves, we truly understand the common excuses for why you probably haven’t created your estate plan yet.But we also know what to do about it, so you don’t leave the people you love at risk. Read on for the top three excuses to avoid estate planning, and what you can do to overcome those excuses and do the right thing for the people you love now.
1. I don’t have enough time.
When running a company, it can be a serious challenge just to get all of your most-pressing daily tasks done on time. This is especially true in today’s fast paced business environment, where you move from one task, one meeting, one email, one phone call, one text to the next—and before you know it… a year has gone by, and then another, and it just keeps going.
Hectic schedules can make it difficult to engage in forward-thinking, proactive business planning, especially estate and succession planning, which require deep introspective strategizing and can take many months, even years, to fully develop. And even if you do make time to create a plan, unexpected issues—accidents, illness, lawsuits, audits—often pop up that demand your urgent attention, and planning gets put off once again.
Estate planning is a big-picture, long-term process that naturally lends itself to procrastination, so a lot of business owners never get around to it. However, before you allow yourself to keep putting it off, consider how difficult it will be for the people you love—your clients, your team, and your family—if you become incapacitated or die without creating a plan.
So how do you find the time? Let us handle it with you. Start by scheduling a Family Wealth Planning Session with us, during which we can guide you through our step-by-step process to inventory what you own, where it is, and how we can plan for the most affordable, effective, and easeful transition of your business in the event of your incapacity or death.
2. My family & team don’t take planning seriously.
Although you do need to take the lead when creating your estate and succession plan, you will ultimately need input and action from family and key non-family team members. Given this, if your family and/or team don’t seem interested or resist your efforts to put a plan together, it’s easy to get discouraged.
In the end, you won’t be around for the trainwreck that’s likely to occur without a plan in place, so why should you bother if nobody else cares? However, you’re the boss for a reason, and now is the time to act like one.
It’s your job to lead and motivate your family and your team to treat planning with the respect it deserves. Of course, you’ll likely encounter some pushback, but as with any essential project, you must keep your eye on the ball and do whatever it takes to ensure your business and family can survive and thrive no matter what happens to you.
After you’ve completed our Life & Legacy Planning process, we’ll invite your family and key team members into the know, so they are fully aware of the parts of your plan that will impact them when something happens to you. Informing key people about your planning decisions is an integral part of our process, yet it’s often overlooked. We’ll ensure that doesn’t happen, and we’ll invite the key players into the planning process at the right time to ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows exactly what to do if something happens to you.
3. I don’t know what an effective estate and succession plan even looks like.
If you’ve seen a successful estate or succession plan, congratulations. That’s a rarity in today’s world. But chances are, you were not raised by a business owner who successfully passed on their business to the next generation. And if you weren’t, there’s no reason you would know what an effective estate and succession plan looks like.
A lack of clear understanding about any major endeavor frequently leads to fear of failure, and in turn, procrastination. Nobody, especially the boss, wants others to think they don’t know what they’re doing, and this is probably the biggest reason many business owners never get around to creating an effective plan.
When it comes to estate and succession planning, it can be difficult to identify clear goals for a future that doesn’t involve you. This is only natural. If planning were simply another operations’ issue that needed solving, you’d likely have a plan in place in no time at all. However, multi-generational planning is by default something you’re almost certainly unfamiliar with.
This can make it feel impossible to even know where to start with your plan, much less identify what problems might arise and how to address them. But you have to start somewhere.
This is where experienced business lawyers like us come in. As your Family Business Lawyer™, we will support and guide you to create a comprehensive estate plan to ensure the company, wealth, and legacy you are working to build will last long after you are gone. Specifically, this involves putting in place a long-term business succession plan that not only names your successor, but also provides a detailed roadmap for him or her to follow, when you’re no longer around to offer your guidance and advice.
Stop Making Excuses
If you’re guilty of using any of these excuses for not creating an estate and succession plan, it’s understandable. But to make things as convenient as possible, we’ve removed all of the barriers for you. For example, we’ve made it easy for you from a time perspective. Just schedule a 15-minute call to start, and we’ll take it from there. We’ll help you know exactly what to do, and we’ll ensure that your key decision-makers know what to do as well, if and when something happens to you.
And if you already have an estate plan—even one created with another lawyer—in place, you should have us review it to make sure you’ve actually covered all your bases. With our support, you can not only shield your company and family from unforeseen tragedy, but also achieve the peace of mind needed to take your company to the next level. In this way, you can ensure that the business and legacy you worked so hard to build will not only survive, but actually thrive for the next generation and beyond. Schedule your 15-minute call today to get the ball rolling.
This article is a service of Liz Smith, Family Business Lawyer™. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule your appointment at 907-312-5436, or find a time for us to call you.