How do I protect the finances of the Successor of my Business?


Here are ways to protect your successor financially.

  • Allow the potential successor to get involved in managing important team projects. Try to increase the successor’s financial insights and his or her general responsibilities over time. Allow independence while ensuring that the right professionals assist the successor such as a good accountant and insurance agent.
  • Consider visiting other family businesses that have transferred their business through continuity planning.
  • Establish mentors and advisors for the successor. Consider setting up a board of directors if one is not in place. Implement leadership training programs.
We do not suddenly become what we do not cooperate in becoming.— William J. Bennett

Protect your assets during Succession in the following ways:

  • Cover your key persons Use life and disability insurance to cover the cost of replacing an owner, successor, contingent successor, or a key executive in the event of death or disability.
  • Ensure debt redemption Life insurance proceeds can pay off bank loans and other liabilities—paid at the time of the owner’s death. Also, consider critical illness insurance, which would pay up to $2,000,000 if the proprietor were to become critically ill.
  • Provide income replacement insurance (Disability insurance) benefits can provide income to an owner, successor, or key executive if disabled over certain periods of time. The income paid as a benefit to a disabled insured places less payroll burden on the company.
  • Fund a buy-sell agreement Life and disability insurance proceeds can fund a buy-out upon death or disability, where there are two or more owners in business (effective for current owners or succeeding generations).
  • Fund a stock redemption Where other members of the family own stock, you can buy life insurance on the owner, and make the successor the beneficiary. This will provide cash upon the owner’s death to allow the successor to buy the stock of say, sisters or brothers, based on a pre-determined formula related to equalizing the estate.
  • Fund capital gains tax liabilities Where large capital gains will impair the company or reduce personal assets, or disallow a bequest of a cottage or other asset, use a permanent life insurance product, designed to pay off all capital gains liabilities.
  • Create capital to equalize your estate Where one child will inherit the company, life insurance can be purchased on the owner and/or spouse, to pay the non-involved children a tax-free cash benefit in predetermined amounts, clear of probate. Avoiding resentment, you can inform these children that they will be treated fairly in the overall estate.
Let him who would move the whole world, first move himself. — Socrates

Maintain relationships during succession

  • Keep your banker informed What would your banker do if something happened to your firm’s current owner? Who else knows of the loans or the true financial status of the company? Introduce your successor (and the succession plan) to your banker and go over all the liabilities of the company. Reveal to he banker your life insurance planning that can offset liabilities in the balance sheet.
  • Sustain client relationships Introduce your successor early on, to your key clients. Perhaps host client appreciation events.
  • Harmonize the successor with the constituency The key players will help the company survive, including key suppliers; influential family within and without; shareholders whom you hope will seek minimal dividends in lieu of future growth; employees, especially those holding company stock; and the key executives.
  •  Diversify sources of retirement income Keep your retirement investments separate from your business Avoid investing all of your profits into the business with disregard to developing your own independent retirement resources. Thus, you will not need to rely on the company to create an ongoing retirement income, though you may indeed receive dividends and income from the business. Consider purchasing segregated funds, separating your personal assets from the company, while reducing exposure to creditors.
  • Move towards financial independence of your business Though you leave a legacy to your successor(s), you can ensure that the legacy will have sufficient funds to survive during and after the succession. Drawing from your retirement savings can reduce the need to depend on business income (or dividends).


How can I empower the process of Business Succession?

Here is how you can empower the process of Business Succession


  • Establish appropriate forums Family retreats and regular meetings can allow the family to discuss the issues that will promote the continuation of a profitable company.
  • Develop teams and design tasks Select the most promising successor candidates to test their mettle. Include all the constituent players: the owner(s) and spouse(s); the owner’s children (including nieces or nephews) who are involved in the business or are shareholders; key executives; and once the successor is chosen, the following professionals:
  • Corporate tax accountant To value the business and assess capital gains tax liability; and to recognize if an estate freeze makes sense. Have the company financials been explained to the successor?
  • Corporate lawyer To install buy-sell and share redemption agreements, to advise all parties of various legal risks, and assess all historic agreements to see if they need to be changed in light of the succession.
  • Succession consultant These specialists can consult and quarterback the sessions through the entire planning process, keeping it on track.
  • Insurance specialist There are various insurance solutions to mitigate succession planning risk.
There can be no real communication without a reciprocity of ideas.— Ernest Holmes

Select the right successor

  • Look for leadership skills The selection of the right successor is vital to the continuation of a successful company. The most suitable candidate will probably have leadership potential made obvious by willing and capable followers; care for employees; decisive self-confidence; ability to plan strategy and deliver on promises; amiable interaction with peers and colleagues; integrity; ability to inspire others with a vision; skilled at listening to others and can resolve conflicts; and holds others accountable, encouraging them to meet the company’s objectives.
Man does not simply exist, but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment. — Viktor Frankl

Ask yourself “Whose destiny is it?”

  • Understand limiting paradigms Some parents believe that the business was developed for a certain child. But perhaps this child has his/her own alternative career-dream. If a son or daughter is bribed or cajoled into becoming a successor, hard feelings may arise later when the realization of lost opportunity to be an artist, a doctor, or a zoologist sets in.

From the beginning, try to find a contingent successor, as no one knows what the future may hold—change is part of life.





Potential pitfalls of Succession Planning

Ten Business Succession Pitfalls 

Various circumstances can make succession planning either difficult or impossible:

The suitable successor quits. A son or daughter may decide to leave the firm after having worked in the family business for years without a commitment to a concrete succession plan.

Business succession isn’t viable. Perhaps there is no child-successor or executive available or willing to take on the responsibilities of your firm. There may be changing circumstances such as a new competitor, loss of massive contracts, or the product or service is becoming obsolete.

You might want to sell. The success of the business is not necessarily based on flourishing over successive generations. It might even be achieved by selling the company at the right time to create investment wealth. Or unexpectedly, a competing business or a group of executives may offer to buy it.

The owner’s inability to relinquish control. One may hold on to a company because it has provided income for years, offering a means to control one’s destiny. Much of the owner’s self-identity may have evolved out of the business.

Power struggles with partners. Some situations incite resentment among co-owning siblings or partners, preventing a succession process.

No retirement goals. Many founder-owners have no interests outside the business. If their work is their life, they may have no intention of retiring.

Can’t face mortality. Many owners (including sensitive children) find it hard to discuss the issues associated with ageing, loss of health or death. Entrepreneurs, who have carved out their destiny, may believe they are somewhat immortal, even if facing real health risks.

No trust of successor’s skill. It is often problematic for parents to see their children as capable successors. They may criticize even their reasonable efforts. 

The owner dies. Even before considering succession planning, the owner may die, leaving the responsibility to a spouse or child to conclude or abandon.

There is no life insurance solution in place. Talk to your advisor about how to use life insurance planning for maximizing your estate as you create a strategy for your business succession. There are ways to fund taxes and buy out partners and equalize an estate fairly among heirs. The real risk is doing nothing.


The Buy-Sell Agreement: A financial safeguards for shareholders







The Buy-Sell agreement is one of the most important legal documents a business can have to protect shareholders in the event of the death of a business owner/partner.

They must be planned ahead Whether you own a partnership or corporation, we can help you set up a buy-sell agreement while you are alive and capable of doing so. We will help you value your company and set up the right Buy-Sell Agreement to meet Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) standards.

Funding the Agreement We can determine if the company has the cash flow or a large amount of money available to fund the buy-out of the deceased or disabled owner. If not, life insurance can be used to fund a buy-sell agreement as it can pay a large amount of tax-free capital at the right timing of the death of a business owner/partner.

Making it legally binding We can meet with your lawyer and the buyers’ lawyers. After it is drafted, all parties will review it to their satisfaction, and then sign it to make it legal. It is suggested that the life insurance be purchased first to ensure that one is insurable. Even where there is a medical problem, in most cases, there is an insurer willing to design a policy to suit the risk, based on the respective health of the individual.

Three types of Key-Person Insurance for your business


If you are a business owner, you may have an individual who is key to your success. There is insurance to protect you against financial loss if he or she is incapacitated, in three areas.

1) Key-Person Life Insurance
2) Key-Person Critical Illness Insurance
3) Key-Person Disability Income Protection

Key-Person Life Insurance Life insurance is usually the foundation of a key-person protection strategy. It provides an immediate injection of capital into the business precisely when needed—when a key person dies. At this time, the death benefit is paid to the company tax-free.

Renewable Term Life Insurance is usually the most economical option over the short-term. In certain circumstances, permanent insurance may provide better protection when coverage will be needed over a long time frame.

Key-Person Disability Income Protection Disability insurance can be used for two purposes in a key person context:
• The provision of a continued salary to a key person that becomes disabled, usually until the earlier of age 65, or recovery from the disability.
• Owner-managers can purchase insurance that provides continued payment of office expenses and salaries during the period of disability, usually for a limited time period.

Key-Person Critical Illness Insurance Critical illness insurance provides protection in a situation where a key person is afflicted by a specified disease or health problem that does not necessarily render them disabled, but nevertheless affects their desire or ability to work. Depending on the policy, this insurance coverage can pay a lump sum, or an income payable to the business, to help cover losses created by the absence of, or lower productivity of the individual.

How does a business create a Succession Plan?

Succession planning allows you to transfer your wealth creating potential.


Many who own family businesses, will move into retirement over the next two decades. A delicate process referred to as “succession” or “business continuity” planning can lead to relinquishing leadership roles while transferring their businesses to the next generation.

By developing a succession strategy you can fairly distribute business assets; transfer the power and authority associated with leadership from the senior to next generation; and cultivate family harmony. The successor then becomes the new steward of the family legacy.

An excellent plan will establish the best possible tax planning to limit liabilities that can occur.


Does your business need an Estate Freeze?

If your business assets possess the potential for significant capital gains, and you have children who might take over the company, an estate freeze may be worthwhile considering. An estate plan can assess the fair market value of an estate and the potential tax on the capital gains that will be due.

shutterstock_69171412 MEDIUM SIZEThe company’s value can be reasonably pre-established with your input, as opposed to your executors and lawyers negotiating with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) after your death. Ask your tax accountant how an estate freeze would affect your business and if this is the most viable option to consider when transferring or selling your business to your heirs.

Estate planning will help you determine who will be the beneficiaries of your estate, who will take over the company, or if you should sell your assets currently.

An estate freeze or a partial freeze is a way to transfer all or a portion of the new growth in the value of the company to the new owner-heirs. You exchange all or a portion of your existing equity for a class of non-growth voting preferred shares. These preferred shares allow for a fixed income in retirement and the maintenance of future control, enabling a fall-back contingency for the freezor to assume a takeover (to save the company from poor management by the new heirs or to sell the company etc.).

Due to the technical complexity of an estate freeze, and potential changes to tax legislation professionals must be consulted when considering this option.

Estate freezes coupled with the intelligent use of life insurance can help reduce the effect of a massive tax-bite on your estate. Such planning can also free up capital for retirement because life insurance can pay the tax bill versus using any money saved for retirement.