JMA Legal has an experienced team of lawyers that can guide you and your family through all the issues that arise as part of the business and family succession planning process.
We have a long history of working with families, together with their accountants, financial planners and other professional advisors, to achieve legal and tax effective solutions for all forms of business succession. From the farming family trying to work out how to give security to their on-farm kids while also providing for their off-farm kids, to the publican with a lucrative city pub, we have it covered.
Succession planning is the process of working out a plan to allow for the smooth transition of your business and any assets with minimal disturbance to the operation of the business and family relationships.
It is important to realise that succession planning is not necessarily the end of one era and the beginning of another, it is just working out how the family business and assets are going to transition to the next generation.
There are different ways to start the succession planning process, and what will work for you and your family depends on many different factors. Every family and business is different so there is no one solution that fits all.
An informal family meeting can be a great way to start the process. If this is how you choose to proceed, make it clear what the purpose is of getting the family together. Ideally you would have an agenda that you send around beforehand so everyone has time to process the issues that are going to be discussed and anything they want covered.
Everyone should also try and be realistic about what the family meeting might achieve as well. It could be the meeting is ended with no resolutions, more family meetings may be required and if things became too volatile during the meeting or everything just goes round and round in circles, a more formal meeting with professional advisors involved, may be appropriate.
It also helps to establish ground rules, such as:
- Involve all family members, where possible
- Try not to personalise issues
- Aim to stick to the agenda
- Give everyone the opportunity to speak and listen without judging
- Attempt to seek common ground and mutual benefits.
Once you’ve had your meetings and decided on a way forward, the next step is to put documents in place to achieve it.
If transferring the family business and/or assets is not financially viable because of taxation or other reasons or is just not a good idea at the time, a great succession plan can also be achieved using a combination of estate planning documents such as wills, powers of attorney and other family agreements.
Whatever plan you do make now, keep in mind, it can be changed with agreement if someone’s situation changes.
The single most important part of a succession plan is having one and the most important step is getting started.