Business Succession Planning Attorney

Running a business is a full-time job that often leaves little room to think about the future. But what happens to your business when you can no longer run it?


Did you know that, according Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, the majority of family-owned businesses in the U.S. do not survive into the second generation. Have you considered a succession plan? If not, you may be putting your hard-earned legacy at risk.


Business Succession Planning isn’t just a box to check; it’s a crucial roadmap for the sustainable future of your business. It’s about identifying who will take the reins when you’re ready to step back and ensuring a smooth transition that preserves your business’s integrity, values, and financial stability. Whether you’re a small business owner or run a family enterprise, planning for succession should be essential, not optional.


Secure your legacy and provide for the next generation with a well-thought-out business succession plan. Contact William C. Roof to discuss the sustainable future of your business today.


What is Business Succession Planning?

Business Succession Planning is a way to prepare for who will take over the key roles in your business when the current leaders can’t or won’t do them anymore. This planning is not just for big companies. Small businesses and even family-owned businesses need to think about this, too. By planning ahead, you’re making sure the business stays open and continues to do well. This involves picking out people within your company who could take over leadership roles in the future, helping them get better at their jobs, and laying out a path for them to step up when it’s time.

Why is Business Succession Planning Essential?

You might wonder, “Why do I need to worry about this now?” Well, Business Succession Planning is not just a “nice to have”; it’s a “must-have” for several reasons:

  1. Ensuring Continuity: The top reason for having a succession plan is to ensure your business keeps running smoothly, no matter what happens. If a leader leaves suddenly, you don’t want to be left scrambling. A smooth leadership transition is crucial for keeping your employees and customers secure.
  1. Cost Savings: Promoting from within is usually cheaper than hiring from outside. Plus, internal candidates already know the ropes, saving you on training costs.
  1. Preserving Company Culture: The people who take over key roles should fit in with the company’s values and culture. This is particularly important for family members taking over family-owned businesses.

  1. Risk Management: Life is unpredictable. From sudden illnesses to unexpected departures, things can change in an instant. Your business succession planning should also include elements of asset protection and even insurance policies like life insurance to ensure liquidity.
  1. Tax Benefits: A well-crafted succession plan can also help in tax planning, potentially reducing the estate tax burden on your heirs. This is something your estate planning attorney can guide you on.
  1. Legal Security: Buyout agreements, valuation of business interests, and shareholder agreements are some of the legal areas covered in a succession plan. Failing to address these can lead to legal disputes down the line.

Why Start Early?

Starting early with business succession planning is like investing in good life insurance; you hope you won’t need it soon, but you’ll be glad it’s there when the time comes. Business owners often delay this crucial step, thinking there’s plenty of time. However, the sooner you start, the more options you’ll have, especially regarding tax planning and asset protection.

Advantages of Early Planning

  • Financial Flexibility: Early planning allows you to make financial moves that could significantly benefit your net worth and liquidity in the future.

  • Time for Execution: Good plans need time to be implemented. Whether it’s setting up buy-sell agreements or sorting out the valuation of your business, starting early gives you that time.

  • Legal Compliance: Laws and regulations can be complicated. Business succession planning attorneys can guide you through the legal maze well in advance, ensuring your plan is compliant and effective.

Business Succession Planning Strategies

Succession planning is crucial for ensuring a smooth leadership transition, especially in senior positions, when the time comes for current leaders to exit due to retirement, promotion, or unforeseen circumstances. Here are some strategies:


  1. Identifying Key Positions: The first step is to identify the roles crucial for business continuity. Ideally, planning should ideally begin years before the transition, with successors identified at least five years beforehand​.
  1. Communicating with Employees: Open communication regarding succession plans helps align the workforce and avoid uncertainties. Explaining the scope of the succession plan to the employees​ is essential.
  1. Collaboration between Management and HR: Succession planning should be a collaborative effort between management and HR to gather insights and necessary information from senior positions to smooth the process​.
  1. Forecasting Business Needs: Having an emergency succession plan besides a long-term one helps address unexpected vacancies and plan for foreseeable retirements and promotions.

Steps in Creating a Succession Plan

Business Succession Plan requires a structured approach to ensure smooth transitions and continued business success. Here are the steps involved in crafting such a plan based on multiple sources:


  1. Assessment:
    • Evaluate your organization’s needs and identify upcoming business challenges, critical risk positions, and competency gaps to support business continuity​.
    • Determine the roles that are crucial at an executive level and understand the skills and knowledge required for these roles.
  1. Communication:
    • Discuss the plan with employees, explaining its scope and the rationale behind including certain roles in it, which could range from executive positions to managerial and supervisory staff​.
  1. Collaboration:
    • Establish collaboration between management and HR, with business leaders driving the process, and garner insights, input, and information from senior positions to make the succession plan effective​.

  1. Forecasting:
    • Develop an emergency succession plan for untimely vacancies, create detailed forecasts, and long-term plans to address upcoming retirements and promotions, considering the business’s capacity to fill positions swiftly.
  1. Talent Pipeline Creation:
    • Formulate a pipeline of talent to have individuals ready for new challenges, which is essential for finding suitable successors and filling newly created positions.
  1. Determine the Succession Path:
    • Decide on the future of the business, whether it’s transferring to a family member , selling to employees, or other options, and start planning accordingly.

The bottom line: Start now.

Regardless of the business stage, initiate the succession planning process early to assemble a team that will understand your business and personal objectives.

Business Succession Planning for Small Businesses

Small businesses often feel like one big family. But even if you’re not a huge company, planning for the future is super important. You might not have a big team, but you still need to think about what happens to your business when you’re ready to step back.


  1. Why It’s Important: Small businesses are often built on the hard work of a few key people. If one of those key people leaves or retires, it could shake things up in a big way. Having a plan helps everyone feel more secure and makes sure the business stays strong.
  1. What to Do:
    • Identify how you wish to exit the business: sell it, transfer to a family member or a business partner, or close it.
    • Conduct a business valuation to understand the worth of your business.
    • Develop a succession plan detailing the transition process.
    • Seek legal advice  to ensure the plan is solid and beneficial​

Family Business Succession Planning

Running a family business is special. You’re working not just with employees but with siblings, cousins, or even your mom and dad. But that can also complicate things when it’s time to pass the business on to the next generation.


If you want the business to stay in the family, you need to plan for it. This means talking openly about who is interested and capable of taking over. It’s not always easy, but it’s crucial.


Family businesses aren’t just about money but also about relationships. A good family business succession plan also considers the emotional side of things. This might mean having tough conversations now to avoid bigger problems later.

Role of a Business Succession Planning Attorney

Planning for the future might seem overwhelming, especially if you’re already juggling the day-to-day challenges of running a business. But with the right legal advice, it doesn’t have to be. Business succession planning lawyers can offer:


  • Option Evaluation: They help you determine who takes over and how to make it happen, whether you’re planning an exit strategy or setting up for the next generation of family members.


  • Pitfall Prevention: It’s easy to make mistakes in this complex process. A knowledgeable attorney can help you avoid them, from tax planning to asset protection.


  • Security in Crisis: Life can throw curveballs. If something happens to you suddenly, a well-crafted succession plan provides a safety net for your business interests and key employees.


  • Financial Planning: Besides who takes over, how will this transition affect your net worth and liquidity? An attorney can help map this out.

Protect Your Hard Work for the Future with Our Help

You’ve put your heart and soul into your business. It’s not just a job. It’s your life’s work and your dream for the future. Don’t let all that effort go to waste because you didn’t plan for what comes next. Your business is more than just a way to make money—it’s your legacy.


With William C. Roof, you get more than just legal advice. He brings a unique blend of experience in business, business and complex litigation, trial advocacy, and contract drafting to help secure your legacy.


Don’t leave the future of your business to chance. Secure your legacy and provide for the next generation with a well-thought-out business succession plan. Contact William C. Roof to discuss the sustainable future of your business today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the types of succession planning?

Succession planning can be broadly categorized into a few types: Emergency/Contingency Plans and Long-Term/Proactive Plans, which focus on immediate replacements and long-term talent development, respectively.

When would you use a succession plan? Why is business succession planning important?

Every business, large and small, should develop some sort of succession plan. The importance of business succession planning is highlighted through its role in ensuring business continuity and preparing for leadership transitions, which can foster business growth, stability, and profitability.​

What are the benefits of succession planning?

The benefits of succession planning are numerous and crucial for organizational resilience and growth. It helps protect the business from unexpected changes, ensures smoother business operations, and aids in talent retention by showing employees a clear career advancement path within the organization.

Is succession planning a risk? What can go wrong with succession planning?

Succession planning protects you from the risks of your business falling into disrepair after you’re no longer able to run it. Some of the frequent pitfalls result from not planning with enough time, failing to involve a professional, and failing to get your key leaders on board with the plan.

Should I hire a lawyer for Business succession planning?

Hiring a lawyer to help realize your business succession planning is important to ensure a smooth transition. William C. Roof can help you make a plan so that you don’t have to worry about the future of your business. Contact us to discuss the future of your business.


The contents of this article are not comprehensive, they provide only a general overview of the subject matter discussed. This article does not establish a client-attorney relationship with the reader, and no legal decisions should be made based on the article’s contents. Because every legal matter arises under unique facts specific to the client, no legal decision should be made without consulting a licensed attorney.

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