Family Business Succession Planning

July 2017

What are some of the most difficult situations our estate planning attorneys have witnessed? Planning the succession of governance and ownership of the family business. These situations can become even more difficult when the parents or grandparents have not communicated the business succession plan to their heirs and one of the kids feels slighted by having a minimal role in the business.

These emotionally-fueled situations can be helped by three things:

  • Developing a comprehensive succession plan that is documented both in the corporate documents and the estate plan.
  • Reviewing the business-succession plan annually;
  • Simply communicating the plans and making the documents available to those who will be affected by them.

The above tactics will help with questions like, who is going to manage the business upon the owner’s death, what portions of the business will be distributed within the family or to a third party, etc. It may even help to address the desires of any potential successors to understand their point of view and manage their future expectations.

FMJ’s Trusts & Estate attorneys have immense experience in the business succession planning world and are happy to assist you with any of your needs in this area. Every business owner is fully aware of the work required to start and run a successful business, and we encourage each business owner to view business succession planning as an opportunity to continue to manage their business into the future.

This post was written by Trusts & Estates attorneys David Ness and Matt Jensen. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your estate planning options, contact David at or Matt at