One of the questions that comes up among our members in our Estate Planning Bootcamp is how to deal with adding a business succession plan into an estate plan, for their business owner clients. This is a common need when you are serving business owners and learning to assist clients through the process smoothly can be of great benefit to your law practice.
Given that each situation is unique, here is a general overview that will help you develop your own process for serving clients looking to incorporate a business succession plan into their estate plan.
- Set the ground rules
Begin by setting your ground rules. The focus is to first get the foundational estate plan in place to keep your client’s family out of court and out of conflict, if anything happens to them. Let your client know that you will be able to focus on business succession planning, and what happens to the business when he or she becomes incapacitated or dies, after the foundational plan is in place.
- Use your “binder delivery meeting” to focus on the business and further build relationship
Ideally, you are doing estate planning the New Law Business Model way and you’ve got a three-meeting process in place that builds relationship, instead of just creating form documents and getting them signed in two meetings, and then sending those documents to your clients after the signing meeting.
The third meeting, which we call the “binder delivery meeting” is where you build relationships with your clients and take the relationship to the next level. It’s at this meeting that you would deliver the Kids Protection Plan, if they have minor children, conduct your Family Wealth Legacy Interview to support your clients to pass on more than just their money, enroll your clients in an ongoing maintenance membership program, and if they have a business, discuss the Business Succession Planning process.
- Get your own business succession planning in place
Before you can adequately address business succession planning with your clients, you need to have your own business succession planning in place. You are the role model for your clients, so once you have confronted these issues with your own business, you are best-suited to help your clients face these issues in their businesses.
Factors to focus on when you are ready to address business succession planning:
- What do you envision is going to happen to your business if you become incapacitated or when you die?
- What systems do you have in place to ensure your clients will continue to be well taken care of and that you have trained team members who can access all of your digital accounts and records? .
- Do you have life insurance in place to provide the liquidity your family and business will need to remain supported while your business matters get wrapped up and well-handled?
Are your assets (business and personal) thoroughly inventoried and easy to access by your family and your team?
Estate planning is about so much more than just passing on your money. It’s about clarifying your values, getting more financially organized than you ever have been before, caring for your family and your clients, and keeping the people you love out of court and out of conflict.
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