The life goals of a successor
Several years ago we went into a business and were greeted at the door for our appointment by the 55-year-old son of the owner. As we were surveying the business, we noticed some very unique art that was decorating the office. In the course of the conversation, we asked the son about the art. He told us that he was the artist. He was a shy, introverted man who seemed somewhat troubled. His 80-year-old father had started the business and sincerely believed his son would be his successor. After several interviews, it was determined that the son was suffering from depression that was impacting his physical health. It seemed that he always wanted to be an artist and, in fact, had the soul of an artist. His father did not see art as a real career. In subsequent conversations, we discovered the father had wanted to get out of the business years ago but was staying in the business because he felt he had to do so for his son. Interestingly, they had never had a conversation about this issue until then. Through our pre-succession planning process, it was decided to begin preparing the business for sale. Dad was going to share the proceeds of the sale so the son could pursue the rest of his life in art. Prior to our meeting, they had spent over $100,000 in legal bills preparing a very sophisticated estate plan. In addition, they were spending over $100,000 a year in life insurance premiums to fund the transition. If this conversation had taken place 15 years earlier, all of that money would have been saved.