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AUGUST 2012





Family Business Succession Planning: Transferring Control and Assets - Part 1

Bill Woods, GreensheetBIZ

If you're going to successfully combine family and business, you need to have a succession plan in place - sooner rather than later.

A succession plan contains two main parts: 1) your plan for transferring control, or management of the business, and 2) your plan for transferring the assets of the business. Part of it is art. Part of it is science. But as a start, it requires an acknowledgment that if you want the business to continue forever (who views their business as having a life expectancy?), you have to plan for the day when you are no longer there.

Management succession takes much planning and effort, but at the end of all the planning, it must be implemented. The NextGen leader must be mentored, encouraged to interact with peers from similar companies, challenged often and given

additional authority over time. His first major decision can't come on the day after your retirement party or funeral. This is the "art" part of succession. Now to transferring the assets (yep, you guessed it...this is mostly a science, though it can be artfully crafted).

When the time comes for you to no longer own your company, you either close the doors, sell to outsiders or sell to insiders. Assuming that your wish is to keep the business in the family, you should have a robust estate plan.

Since the family-owned business is often the most valuable asset the owner has in his or her estate, many factors must be considered in order to achieve the desired transfer and to do it in the most tax-efficient manner.

What is the company worth? Can I gradually transfer part of it to my children who are involved in the business? How do I fairly treat my other children who aren't in the business? How do I get my value out of the business so I can retire? How can my children afford to buy the business from me in the future since it increases in value every year? The list of questions goes on and on.

Watch the next edition for the continuation of this article. Reprinted from GreensheetBIZ, the twice-monthly newsletter for senior industry executives in the graphic arts, printing, publishing and converting industries. Subscribe today at www.GreensheetBIZ.com. Questions? TalkBack@GreensheetBIZ.com. William F. Woods, Jr., the author of this article, is an attorney-at-law and a GreensheetBIZ associate editor.

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