One of the most difficult challenges facing those who advise owners of family businesses is to get them to take the first step in the planning process. Too many advisors present many alternative (and sometimes conflicting) strategies, leading the business owner to conclude that this planning is an all-or-nothing thing.
I recommend, in the alternative, that you make the first step as small as possible, just to get the family business owner started on the path to business succession planning.
Do not let the client think that everything must be done at once. Try to avoid complicated design schematics, which are meant to diagram the entire end result on one piece of paper. I had one client tell me later that the paper looked like “the wiring diagram for a nuclear submarine.” Why make the first step so big?
Start with the low hanging fruit, such as a simple update to the client’s estate planning documents and medical directives. After the owner begins the process, I have found it is easier to keep them going.
While the focus of this article will be on the drafting of the actual estate planning documents, care must be taken not to lose sight of the fact that the lawyer is merely writing down the decisions made by the client. The planning process itself is insurmountably linked to the drafting process.
The Practical Real Estate Lawyer
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