Small Business Succession Planning: Building a Team of Professionals

Every small business needs a succession plan, but most don’t have one. One reason why many small-business owners haven’t gotten around to succession planning—even if they realize they need it—is that they aren’t sure where to start. Well, one good starting point is to build a team of professional advisors to help you craft a succession plan that is well-suited to yourself and your business.

Depending on your budget and the complexity of your business and finances, here’s who you might want to include in that team:


An accountant will become intimately familiar with your business finances, making him or her an essential part of your succession-planning team. Your accountant can also help investigate and explain to you the tax consequences of your succession plan, working with your lawyer to develop a strategy to keep the government’s cut of your business as low as possible.

In addition to your ordinary accountant, you may also want to engage a specialist in business valuations. As I’ve explained before, valuing a business is a complex task. Although your accountant may understand the basics of the process, someone who specializes in the field of business valuation can help maximize your benefits.


Yes, attorneys—plural. Virtually all lawyers these days focus on one area of law. As a result, for complex business-succession planning, you may want to work with two (or even more!) attorneys, including:

  • A business lawyer to help draft the legal documents your business needs. Even small-business owners who have taken the step of incorporating don’t always have all their basic corporate documents in order, and your succession plan will likely involve one or more sophisticated contracts. These are areas in which a business attorney can be especially helpful.
  • An estate planning lawyer to ensure your business-succession plan fits in with your overall estate plan. However significant your small business is to your own finances, there are still aspects of estate planning that won’t be addressed by simply determining who’s going to take over for you after you retire or die.

Insurance Agent

Insurance—especially life insurance—can play a crucial role in your small-business succession plan. If you have a business partner and the plan is that he or she will buy out your interest after you pass, life insurance can provide the funding for that purchase. Likewise, if you sell your business to a person in exchange for a promissory note, life insurance for that person can protect you in the event he or she dies before the note is paid off.

Consequently, part of your succession-planning team should be an insurance agent who can help you understand your options and choose the best one for your plan.

Building the Right Team Takes Time

In addition to these professionals, you may wish to engage still others, like a financial advisor or exit-planning specialist. But whoever you choose to include in your team, keep in mind that the process takes time. The earlier you begin researching your options and building a team of professionals, the easier your succession-planning process will be.

If you would like help building your team or are interested in learning more about how your business succession plan fits into your estate plan overall, call the Law Office of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, CA today to discuss your circumstances in more detail.

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