One of most frequently overlooked tools in your estate planning arsenal is the portability election.

Estate portability elections stem from Sec. 2010(c)(5)(A), which provides that a deceased spousal unused exclusion (DSUE) amount becomes available to a surviving spouse’s subsequent transfers during life and at death but only if the executor of the decedent’s estate timely files Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.

Regs. Sec. 20.2010-2(a)(1) establishes the requirements for a timely filed portability election and provides that the due date of an estate tax return required to elect portability is nine months after the decedent’s date of death or the last day of the period covered by an extension if an extension of time for filing has been obtained. After Form 706 is timely filed, the portability election is automatically made for estates required to file, unless affirmatively stated otherwise by the estate’s executor on the return. Once made, the election is irrevocable. An estate’s executor is required to file an estate tax return in all cases where the gross estate exceeds the basic exclusion amount in effect under Sec. 2010(c), which for 2023 is $12,920,000 (see Sec. 6018(a)).

On July 8, 2022, the IRS released Rev. Proc. 2022-32, which updates and expands the simplified method for estates to obtain an extension of time to make a portability election under Sec. 2010(c) (5)(A). The revenue procedure became effective the day it was released, supersedes Rev. Proc. 2017-34, and allows estates with no filing requirement under Sec. 6018(a) to obtain an extension to make a portability election up until the fifth anniversary of a decedent’s date of death, subject to certain requirements.

Therefore, in today’s world, with the 2023 estate and gift tax exemption at $12,920,000 per individual and $25,840,000 for married couples, many executors aren’t required to file an initial estate income tax return upon the death of a spouse.

However, not filing Form 706 deprives the surviving spouse of the portability election, while filing the return guarantees that election. And the tax consequences can be significant – especially if Congress does not extend the provision in 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which essentially doubled the estate exemption, beyond 2025, at the end of which the exemption is set to revert to 2017’s $7,000,000 per individual limit (adjusted for inflation).

Here’s an example of how the portability election can make a difference:

Joseph and Elizabeth were married, were named in each other’s will as executor of their spouse’s estate, and shared the following assets:

Asset 2020 Value Joseph Elizabeth
Personal Residence $500,000 $250,000 $250,000
Farmland (5,000 acres) $11,600,000 $5,800,000 $5,800,000
Investments $1,500,000 $750,000 $750,000
Total Estate Assets 2020 $13,600,000 $6,800,000 $6,800,000

Joseph died in 2020, leaving his estate to his wife, Elizabeth, and trusting her to look after their children’s needs. Since his estate was less than his estate exemption, she didn’t file Form 706, and inherited Joseph’s assets tax free, under the “Bequests to Surviving Spouses” deduction on jointly held property. Using this deduction has the virtue of bypassing Joseph’s estate exemption for 2020 entirely – which would have left that entire amount available for Elizabeth to add to her own estate exemption at her death, had she filed Form 706 and elected portability.

We will assume that Elizabeth spent all the income derived from her husband’s estate and her own assets in 2021 and 2022, and that the assets did not appreciate.

Since Elizabeth didn’t claim the portability election on Joseph’s estate, here’s the picture at her death in 2022:

Elizabeth’s Estate 2022 $13,600,000
2022 Estate Exemption $12,060,000
Taxable Estate $1,540,000
Estate Tax Rate 40%
2022 Estate Taxes $616,000

Now, if Elizabeth had filed Form 706 for Joseph’s estate in 2020, and elected portability, the picture would be very different, since Elizabeth inherited Joseph’s estate without tax consequences and his 2020 estate exemption was not implicated:

Joseph’s Estate 2020 $6,800,000
Bequest to Surviving Spouse $6,800,000
Net Estate $0
2020 Estate Exemption $11,580,000
2020 Exemption Applicable  $0
2020 Exemption Available to Port to Elizabeth $11,580,000
Elizabeth’s Estate 2022 $13,600,000
2022 Estate Exemption $12,060,000
Joseph’s 2020 Exemption Ported to Elizabeth $11,580,000
Elizabeth’s Total Estate Exemption 2022 $23,640,000
Elizabeth’s Taxable Estate 2022 $0

One form filed, one portability election made, and the difference is over $600,000 in estate tax liabilities.

The moral is, file Form 706, and elect portability. Whatever the size of the estate.

Estate planning is a deeply personal matter and can easily become overwhelming what with all the financial details and the emotions that arise when contemplating the end of our days. We understand this. Come consult with our advisors, and let our caring experts guide you through a plan to protect your hard-earned assets for your loved ones – one which aligns with your individual situation.

Please click here to email us directly – let us know how we can help you.

Until next time –



Estate planning can be a difficult task – or many individual tasks. We’ve discussed the need for wills and powers of attorney, but there’s another vehicle for protecting your assets and your legacy for your heirs – a trust, or trusts.

But how do you determine whether a trust is the right thing for your family? Some general guidelines:

  • If you have a high net worth;
  • If you own significant real estate;
  • If you want to keep your assets and arrangements private;
  • If you have minor children;
  • If one or more of your heirs will need long-term care; or
  • If you have multiple beneficiaries and specific goals as to the protection of each

The answer might be yes.

Wills are great, and absolutely necessary, but any will has to be validated by the probate court. Trusts, as a general rule, bypass this oversight and its attendant costs (the most common exception is a Testamentary Trust, which is created within the will itself).

However, be aware that trusts come with their own set of costs – your estate attorney’s fees, any payments to the trustee, the fees for filing the trust’s tax returns, and income tax incurred by the trust, etc. It’s a very good idea to identify the specific goals of your trust before your consult your estate attorney.

Identifying those goals can also point you toward the right kind of trust for your purpose(s).

Some types of trust commonly used in estate planning are:

  • Revocable Living Trust: Such a trust is owned by you during your lifetime. You can manage the assets it holds just as you manage assets held in an investment account – buy and sell them, withdraw them, add to them, and change your directions for distributions to your heirs. One potential downside to a revocable trust is that, since the assets remain yours and under your own control, these assets will be available to creditors for collection of any debts. This is not necessarily a great idea in many circumstances in the State of Louisiana.
  • Irrevocable Trust: Absent a court order, generally speaking these trusts cannot be changed once they have been placed in force. The assets you designate will transfer from your own ownership to the trust’s; you cannot alter the terms. However, since they are no longer yours, any assets held in an irrevocable trust are shielded from your creditors and not included in your estate.
  • Family Trusts: These can be revocable or irrevocable and are designed to protect your assets in the interests of your family members.
  • “AB” Trust: This is really two trusts, but they are usually created together. The “A” trust, which is a Marital Trust, designed to protect your surviving spouse for his or her lifetime. Your spouse must be the sole beneficiary of such a trust for his or her lifetime, though s/he may, after your death, distribute some or all of the trust’s assets as s/he sees fit. The trust’s designated assets pass to your spouse tax-free, as you can pass any or all of your assets to your spouse without any incurred income tax liabilities. The “B” Trust would benefit your non-spousal heirs – and you can place assets into it shielded from income tax ramifications up to the limit of your estate exemption. The remainder of your assets can pass into the “A” trust for your spouse. This can be further complicated by allowing your spouse the use of the income of certain assets for their lifetime, which is called a usufruct.

There are other types of trusts, which may or may not fit your needs, such as an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) or Dynasty Trust.

Whether you should set up a trust, and if so, what type of trust is best, depends on you, your financial picture, your goals for your legacy, your family’s goals, needs, and wants. No two families are the same – and one size never fits all.

That’s why estate planning is a deeply personal matter. We understand this. Come consult with our advisors, and let our caring experts guide you through a plan to protect your hard-earned assets for your loved ones – one which aligns with your individual situation.

Please click here to email us directly – let us know how we can help you.

Until next time –



Money and death. Most people (myself included) find these topics difficult to raise with family members. One’s approach to both is necessarily emotional as well as, hopefully, rational – for all parties to the discussion.

But a crucial factor in estate planning is talking with your family about your plans. All too often, family discord after a death creates rifts and can even end in your hard-earned assets diminishing through lack of family harmony.

So, you need to talk about the hard things. Ask for your family members’ input, draw them out about their own plans, goals, and desires.

A thing as small as a silver-plate soap dish can have intense sentimental value for one of your children, but maybe not the other(s).

All your children and grandchildren may want use of the beautiful holiday lakefront home. Maybe some won’t.

By understanding what your heirs want and need, you can devise a plan to be fair to each, while taking account of their individual goals.

But, further than this, in understanding what is needed, you and your financial advisor can structure the way you leave your assets, whether individually or jointly, so that, for example, the vacation house will be professionally managed, and the bills for upkeep and maintenance, insurance, and property taxes will be paid timely. If a number of your heirs want use of the property, you can specify the terms of such use, so that everything is spelled out, no questions are unanswered, and your loved ones can simply enjoy the lake house, under the terms and according to the conditions you have set forth.

For example, if you have four children, and each of them has two children, and all of them want to use the vacation home, it’s not likely that all will be comfortable crammed into the house over the Fourth of July. So, yes, be specific, high-demand dates could be rotated among your children from year to year.

Trusts and limited family partnerships are vehicles which can be used to safeguard both your assets and your directives as to their use – your financial and estate advisor can guide you toward the best type of trust for the purpose you want to achieve, and advise whether a limited family partnership would be a good or a bad idea for you and your loved ones.

Really, you should have two family financial meetings – the first to obtain information on their wants, and to give your heirs a general idea of how you plan to handle your estate; the second, after you’ve taken this information to your financial and estate advisor and your estate attorney, and determined more specifically how you will secure your assets for and to your loved ones.

In this meeting, it’s you who will provide most of the information.

By involving your loved ones in your planning, you can ensure they each feel valued, and heard. This is not only vital to maintaining family harmony but will help them be as comfortable as possible with your arrangements.

Estate planning is a deeply personal matter – and, for many, a daunting prospect. We understand this. Come consult with our advisors, and let our caring experts guide you through the process.

Please click here to email us directly – let us know how we can help you.

Until next time –



A friend of mine told me a story about her mother’s death. Her father had died the year before. While she and her siblings were still reeling from the one-two punch of grief, they found her mother’s financial and estate documents completely unorganized, anywhere but not everywhere. Some stock certificates were unlocatable and had to be replaced. Fortunately, the wills were with the parents’ attorney, but dealing with an estate, even a relatively small one, in utter disarray was a nightmare for the heirs – one which took years to resolve.

Don’t let this happen to your loved ones. Get all your estate ducks in a row on the same pond.

Key to leaving your estate organized is – a financial and estate organizer! With labeled sections and tabs within the sections, this can be a paper copy or an electronic copy.

In your organizer you can keep:

  • Tables of contents for each section
  • Wills
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage (and divorce) certificates
  • Property deeds
  • Automobile titles
  • Financial account statements (bank, investment, retirement)
  • Digital asset statements
  • Life and disability insurance policies
  • Loan and/or mortgage documents
  • Personal financial statements (a listing of all assets and liabilities)
  • Any licenses or permits (including but not limited to driver’s licenses)
  • Copies of passports
  • A list of electronic devices
  • Burial and service instructions
  • IRA and pension beneficiary designations

Do not include a list of passwords for your online accounts – these change frequently. Instead, we recommend you store your online account passwords in a secure cloud password site such as Pass Portal – share with your significant other and where to find them and give him or her your log-in credentials to that site.

A financial and estate organizer, properly prepared and maintained, will save you headaches as well as sparing your heirs the nightmare my friend went through. You will have your financial and estate picture at your fingertips, and your loved ones will also, when the time comes for them to deal with your loss.

Let your financial and estate advisor help you prepare both physical and electronic organizers. S/he will know what needs to go into them – and let him or her keep a copy themselves. Maybe another copy for your estate attorney.

Store your physical organizer in a secure location, maybe a lockbox – share this location with one or two trusted loved ones. Store your electronic organizer within a secure onsite environment or on a secure computer. Make sure your loved ones know your computer passwords!

Make sure to keep your organizer updated – your financial advisor should remind you of this periodically. If you update your will or your powers of attorney, make sure the new one(s) gets into the organizer, and the old one(s) gets destroyed. If you take out a new life insurance policy, add it to your organizer, and update the table of contents for that section to take note of it.

Estate planning is a deeply personal matter – and, for many, a daunting prospect. We understand this. Come consult with our advisors, and let our caring, empathetic experts guide you through the process.

Please click here to email us directly – let us know how we can help you.

Until next time –



One great benefit of being married (when it comes to estate planning) is that you have an avenue to make gifts, both during your lifetime and at your death, to your spouse in any amount and entirely free of federal tax consequences.

All non-spousal gifts and bequests are subject to IRS gifting limits and estate exclusion ($12.92 million per individual or $25.84 million jointly for a married couple for 2023), but, absent Congressional action, this figure will revert to 2017’s exclusion adjusted for inflation to $7.0 million per individual or $14.0 million per married couple, adjusted for inflation, as of January 1, 2026).

You can, in effect, transfer any part or the whole of your assets to your spouse, without tax consequences until the time of the death of the surviving spouse. At that time, any assets above the estate exemption for that year will be taxable to the heirs, unless the surviving spouse has remarried, and transferred his or her assets to their new spouse.

However, the full benefits of the unlimited spousal deduction apply only when both spouses are U.S. citizens. If the receiving spouse is not a U.S. citizen, there is a limit to how much can be transferred annually – the limit for tax year 2023 is $175,000. For non-citizens, the unlimited spousal deduction only applies when transfers, gifts, or bequests are made via a qualified domestic trust; to qualify, at least one of the trustees must be a U.S. citizen, and the trust must provide that any distribution of principal be subject to that U.S. trustee’s withholding of any estate tax due.

The unlimited spousal deduction is one of the most powerful tools in estate planning; however, it is vital to use wisely it in the context of your individual family and financial situation. For example, let’s say you and your spouse have a combined estate of $25.84 million. Your spouse can inherit it all, with no immediate tax consequences. But, when your surviving spouse dies, will your children and grandchildren be hit with a large tax bill on their inheritance? What if the current estate exclusion limits have not been extended by Congress, and reverts to an inflation-adjusted $7 million? Assuming your spouse has not remarried and qualifies for only the individual estate exemption and has not significantly depleted the family assets they’ve inherited, that tax bill could become an unwelcome reality for your descendants, who will at the same time be dealing with a huge loss and much grief.

Protect your legacy now – consult with your CPA, financial advisor and estate attorney – estate planning is too important not to seek expert guidance for it. They can review your financial picture and its individual components, discuss in-depth your long-term goals for your family’s financial security, and devise a plan crafted to bring those goals to fruition. Is a trust the right solution for you? If so what type? Your advisors will know what sort of trust, or trusts, will best serve your and your family’s interests. S/he will also provide other recommendations for securing your estate for your heirs.

If you have a substantial estate to leave and have no firm estate plan, or an outdated one, please consult with our expert financial and estate advisors. We are here for you.

Please click here to email us directly – let us know how we can help you.

Until next time –



I think it’s time we talked about estate planning. Because no matter how old or young you are, you have a legacy – and at least some tangible property.

A will is a legally binding document that allows you to determine how your estate will be handled upon your death. Without a will, there is no guarantee that your desires will be carried out. A will minimizes family conflict by determining the who, what and when of your estate after your passing.

You need a will if there is anything you especially want a given loved one to have. How else can you make sure that, when you die, your best friend Johnny will get the baseball you pitched and he caught for the last out of that unforgettable Little League game?

If you want assets distributed in personal and specific ways, the best way to ensure this is to have a will in place.

Having a will means:

  • You can choose your executor and how your estate will be handled.
  • You can choose what bequests to leave to whom – what friend gets which keepsake, making sure that if one of your children loves a particular family heirloom more than the other(s), that they receive it, that the charities you’ve supported get a final contribution.
  • You can designate a guardian for minor children (make sure the designee is with you on this), or someone to make that choice for your family.
  • Your family will breathe easier knowing you’ve taken care of them.
  • You avoid dying intestate, placing your estate in the hands of the courts, and a court-appointed executor to distribute according to state law, which process places potentially significant monetary charges upon your estate.

But even if you have had your will drafted, signed, and put in place, you may not be done. Life events can trigger changes.

Review your will periodically, and update as appropriate. Here are some examples of events that could warrant you updating your will:

  • The death of a family member or other loved one – whether they are among your listed heirs or not, as the death of someone close often reorders our priorities
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • The birth of a child
  • A significant change in your personal net worth
  • The purchase or sale of your business

Hand in hand with wills go powers of attorney. For married couples, usually the power will be issued to the spouse.

You (and your spouse, if you are married) should each have two different powers of attorney:

  • Durable Power of Attorney – this allows a trusted individual of your choice to make decisions, financial, legal, etc., for you. To act on your behalf and in your best interests, as communicated to them by you. This power of attorney can be immediately effective, or set up with a triggering event, such as your incapacity (due to any cause).
  • Medical Power of Attorney – this allows a trusted individual to make decisions about your medical care if you are unable to make, or to communicate them, yourself.

If you are married, most states allow a spouse to make medical decisions without a power of attorney, but what if you are divorced, or never married? What if you have a significant other and are not married? Would your choice of healthcare decision-maker be allowed to take over for you if there is not a power of attorney giving them that authority? Almost certainly not, so, no matter whom you choose, be safe and get that medical power of attorney in place.

If your financial planner is on his or her toes, s/he will ask to review your will and powers of attorneys, to ensure they are aligned with your life as it is at present and will remind you to update them when you make significant life changes.

Remember that having your will and powers of attorney in place is a way you can exert control over how your affairs are handled, as well as providing a road map for the handling of your care, your interests, and, finally, your assets.

Not a single one of us can live forever – it’s kind to leave your family and loved ones with the knowledge that they are protected, and will continue to be protected, by your choices and by your wisdom and love.

When was the last time you reviewed your will and powers of attorney?

If you are unsure whether your will needs updating, please consult with our financial and estate advisors – we are here for you!

Please click here to email us directly – let us know how we can help you.

Until next time –



Some of you already know that I have effectively relocated my family to Park City, Utah, for a four-month stretch. Park City has long been one of my favorite places for a getaway, and we’ve spent a good many days and weeks up here, but never this long at one time.

Of course, we are lucky, Jennifer and I, in that we can do our jobs remotely – not everyone has that option.

I’m taking advantage. And there is considerable advantage to be taken – I find the change of scenery does change my perspective – if I let it. And the fresh insights I’ve gained are profoundly useful.

In Utah I have more reflective time – and use it.

I have discovered how much less stuff I need than I thought. I brought tons of books with me, and, while I have done a good bit of reading, I won’t have read nearly all I brought by the time we return home to New Orleans.

Clothes? I packed for all contingencies and find myself wearing the same five sets of pants and shirts over and over.

To me, that’s a valuable change in perspective – and I hope to keep working on having less of what I don’t need. To better curate my life toward what I truly value, with less time and energy spent on what I don’t.

Of course, travel and changes of scenery and working remotely are not without drawbacks – I miss personal interactions with friends, clients, colleagues, and my team. Online conferences are a wonderful tool, but they aren’t the same as in-person interactions.

But there are opportunities for in-person contact everywhere, and an extended stay allows for deeper connections – we’ve found ourselves involved with new people through the church we attend when here, and making a point of meeting our neighbors led us to participation in – you guessed it – a pickleball club! Jennifer and I play several times a week with our new friends.

New friends, too, new voices, new viewpoints, bring new and valuable perspectives with them.

Now, it’s true that wherever you go, there you are.

And you bring with you all yourself – if you have a medical condition, if you take regular prescriptions, this doesn’t magically go away with a change of scene. If you (like myself, like pretty much everyone) struggle in certain situations, you may be able to modify your responses to some degree, but you are still who you are. Warts, angel wings, and all.

But you can look at yourself, and your life, a little differently in the light of beautiful mountains and of new friends’ lives and perspectives. And you can become aware that perhaps more change is possible than you’d thought before.

I’ve been meditating on Marcus Aurelius – who famously wrote, “Soon you’ll be ashes or bones.”

It’s too true. We all come nearer to the end of our lives every day.

Taking some time away, whether for a week’s vacation or longer as Jennifer and I are doing, can help us re-appreciate the delicacy – and the beauty – of life. And how short it is.

We can let that last truth depress us, or we can seize the days we have, and fill them with the things that matter most, living as richly as possible. Why not choose the latter?

What are some of the ways you’ve found a change of scene a truly recreative experience?

Please click here to share your stories with me – I would love to hear them!

Until next time –



We recently discussed the transitioning-out phase of selling your closely-held business. Now, it’s time to talk about what life looks like once you’re no longer involved in the business you spent so much time building and running.

The sun has set on one phase of your life, it’s true, and after selling their businesses, many entrepreneurs feel a profound sense of loss. This is perfectly natural. For much of your life has been about building, growing, and running this thriving business which no longer belongs to you.

You can focus on that sunset if you choose to, or you can realize that as that sun sets, another is rising on your next life-phase. What you make of that phase is up to you – but we have a few suggestions on how you can ensure you don’t go stir-crazy looking at a blank wall as you mourn your loss of your business.

  • Ask yourself what you learned during the sale process. This is a first step toward making the sale just one more milestone, like your 21st birthday (or your 65th). You aren’t done – you have a long string of milestones ahead of you.
  • Sit quietly with yourself and remind yourself of what you value (outside of all that lovely money you’ve saved, and the additional capital the sale has brought you). See where this thought may lead you.
  • Think about activities you enjoy, and those you’ve always wanted to try. If there’s a better time to explore both, I don’t know what it is.

But don’t contemplate too long – one thing you will very likely miss is the activity and human contact running your business day by day provided. Don’t replace this with inactivity and solitude – unless that is precisely what you know you want and need. And even if that’s the case, you are likely to find it won’t hold your full interest for long.

So make a plan to replace the people you won’t see (though by all means keep up with any and all good friends you’ve made through your business) with people you can make time with. Replace the activities no longer on your plate with new ones you choose for no other reason than that you have either always enjoyed them or very much want to try them.

After all, it’s your life. It’s a new phase, and as Shakespeare put it, the world’s your oyster. Open it and find your pearl.

Some things which can help you ease into your new phase:

  • Spend quality time with your family – an extended, shared vacation to a place you’ve never visited but have always wanted to see can provide both adventure and reinforced bonds in your most important relationships.
  • Reconnect with old friends and make new plans to enjoy their company.
  • If you’ve hobbies you are active in, consider a new level of involvement and commitment.
  • If you haven’t, are there any hobbies you’ve wanted to cultivate? This is the time to do so.
  • New employment is always a possibility – roughly 40% of entrepreneurs start new businesses after selling their old ones.
  • Become a youth mentor if that’s something which appeals to you.
  • Join boards of other companies or become involved with a non-profit.
  • Volunteer to do work for your favorite charity – this can be a great avenue for new action, especially if your charity has need of service within your areas of expertise. One client of ours became a museum docent after retirement and found it very rewarding.

It’s important that you recognize the emotional fall-out of selling your business, your baby (maybe selling your business is slightly analogous to seeing your children grown and independent) and taking steps to avoid sinking into sadness over what you no longer have.

Focus on what you do have and what you are grateful for:

  • A lot more capital than you had before you sold, and, if the purchase price includes payments over time, more to come.
  • The luxury of more free time, even if you must fill it. Because you can now choose to fill it as you like, with family, friends, travel, community involvement, even starting a new business.

This last point is important, because that very time can weigh heavily on entrepreneurs, once they’ve sold their business.

So, make sure you fill that time with people and activities that spark joy in your life. You have a cornucopia of opportunities available to you – dive in and make use of them. If you dig deep, you’ll find you do have unmet goals, unfulfilled ambitions, even if they aren’t business oriented.

Otherwise, you wouldn’t have sold your business, because, if what you really wanted was to keep running it yourself, no offer was too good to refuse.

Remember that, breathe, and embrace your new sunrise.

If you are considering a potential sale of your business, I recommend strongly that you consult with us before making any major decisions – and the sooner the better, as the process of selling a closely-held business can take a year, sometimes longer.

Please click here to let me know how I can help you.

Until next time –



Congratulations! You and your buyer have successfully navigated your way through the process, and have closed the sale.

Now what? Well, for one thing, you’re not quite done yet. Prior-owner involvement post-sale can mean the difference between success and failure for the new owner(s).

That’s one reason to consider staying involved for at least a couple of months after the sale is accomplished. All the more important if your sale involves installment payments, and you haven’t realized the full price at the time of closing.

Don’t forget that the new owner comes into a steep learning curve, however well prepared on paper. Every business is unique, and yours is new to them. You want them to succeed – help them through the transition.

If you are the lynchpin in the operation of your business, you might want to consider potential tiers of residual involvement:

  • Tier 1: Two to three months of full-time involvement. First, you might want to let the new owner shadow you in order to pick up on the details of the role s/he is stepping into. Then, gradually, transition him or her into their new responsibilities.
  • Tier 2: Part-time involvement, so that you are available to the new owner as s/he gets the feel of the business, your team, your customers.
  • Tier 3: Consultation – either scheduled or as-needed. Make sure this is not too open-ended, though. You do need to leave the business in the good hands you’ve chosen. Life awaits!

Some things you can and should ensure, so far as possible:

  • That your team is comfortable with the sale and has met the new owner. Again, we note, so far as possible, because we can’t really control their comfort, at the end of the day – we can only reassure them, so far as we can also be truthful.
  • That your customers also know about the sale, and are, again, as comfortable as you can make them with it. Meet with your top clients, along with the new owner, and assure them that the new management is as committed as you have always been to providing the highest level of customer service.

When might you not need to stay on? Well, if, and only if:

  • You have ensured the above two points;
  • You are handing over a business which runs like a clock without your active participation; your key management, apart from yourself (preferably one or more of whom has been with the business for an extended period, for institutional memory), is staying on, all processes and procedures are thoroughly documented; and
  • The new owner does not feel the need for your continued contribution.

In most cases, though, you will be a great asset to your buyer in their transition into the business which was yours for so long – and most buyers will want that advantage.

You can also consider this a final, farewell gift to the business you spent much of your life building, running, nurturing.

If you are considering a transition out of your business, please call our Transaction Advisors, or click here to email us directly – we are here to help you.

Until next time –



The best time to start planning your exit from your business is when you start it up.


  1. this is the real world, and
  2. even if you do start planning that far in advance, you have to realize that your plans may change. Any altered circumstance affecting you or your business may have an impact on your planning, and if there is one thing we know about circumstances, it is that they can, do, and will change.

It may happen that what you want for the future of your business changes. It could be that a child who previously showed no interest whatever in your business is now fascinated by it and proving invaluable to you. Your partners may want changes to your Buy-Sell Agreement. A potential buyer you never looked for might make you an offer too good to pass up.

Notwithstanding the above, a clear-but-flexible exit strategy and plan can help you get and keep your business in good running order. In all your decisions, factor in the plain truth that one day, one way or another, you will not be running this business.

There are a number of ways you could exit your business when the time comes (whether that timetable is deliberately set by you or not):

  • You may have partners willing to buy you out when you’re ready to leave (please make sure you have a Buy-Sell Agreement in force as soon as possible after the partnership forms).
  • You may have one or more family members working with you who want and are prepared to take over when called upon.
  • You may want to sell your business to an outside buyer.
  • You may consider the business has run its course, and decide to liquidate the assets and retire on the proceeds (plus what you’ve saved toward retirement, of course).
  • You could become ill, and be unable to run your business.
  • ~50% of marriages end in divorce – you may need to buy out your spouse.
  • You may die unexpectedly.

But, however you choose to, or must, exit your business, it’s in your interest to ensure that business has – and keeps – its ducks in a row against that day.

Some recommendations:

  • Keep your corporate documents up to date and readily accessible. Update any corporate bylaws or other covenants which need it.
  • Keep your financial statements up to date.
  • Consider life insurance to provide for liquidity.
  • Make sure your will is up to date.
  • Ensure all your customer and supplier contracts are current and up to date.
  • Maintain employee contracts and update them as necessary (e.g., promotion, lateral transfer between two positions, change in job duties, etc.).
  • Leases, such as of real estate or equipment, should always be kept current – or terminated, should the real estate or equipment no longer serve your business’ needs.
  • Update your business plan annually, to account for current realities and changing future goals.
  • Make certain your team members have been cross trained to cover for one another in emergencies.
  • All policies, processes and procedures should be thoroughly documented, step by step.
  • In fact, document everything, and make sure you have an efficient and easily navigable filing system for electronic documents. Paper, unless mandated by governmental entities, is as a general rule optional in today’s world.
  • Consult your trusted business advisor(s). This person is a major resource who can help you – take advantage whenever circumstances call for their expertise.

Some other considerations are personal – if you are a sole business owner with a family, your business decisions have an impact on them. Be clear about your plans, so as not to blindside your loved ones with a disposition of your business which comes to them ‘out of the blue.’ You don’t have to share each and every little detail, but it will pay off in family peace if they feel their voices are heard.

And if you are considering a potential sale of your business within the next decade, please don’t hesitate to call upon us. We can help you through every step.

Please click here to let me know how I can help you.

Until next time –