Estate Planning

Where do I go for help? Isolated decisions can produce unacceptable results

adapted from Beyond Survival by Léon A. Danco

Now that you are an aging and successful owner-manager, has anxiety set in? Are you wondering what to do with your money, your people, your business, and your future? Are you anxious because you’re running out of time and team talent just when you’re business needs help?

If you answered yes to most of these questions… you may need to utilize outside advisors and stop doing it alone. You have to admit that eventually your talents may be limited in the face of growth, change and more success than you expected. In today’s business world, if you’re not seeking advice from the best advisors in town – you need to ask yourself why.

It can’t be that you’re afraid to explain to the experts your insignificant problems…but it is. Because you don’t want to admit that you don’t know everything.

Instead, you do business with “Who sis and What sis” three flights up because it’s “comfortable” and you think it’s going to be cheaper. It’s like trying to save money on the soda instead of the scotch.

There are highly competent advisors available in your backyard. Why aren’t you talking to them?

Get to know your banker

If you don’t respect your banker, then change banks. Bankers must be worthy of your trust, chosen for their competence and progressiveness and demonstrate genuine concern for and commitment to your future.

You’ll get back from them what you ask for. Confide in them. Keep them informed.

When I was younger, I thought that bankers were backward because they wouldn’t lend me money when I needed it. In recent years, I’ve developed infinite respect for the judgment of quality bankers. They want to talk to business owners. They want to be honest with you and you with them.

I now have a rule.

If I can’t sell my idea to a few different bankers…then I won’t buy it myself.

Not all policy pushers.

Don’t assume that all insurance advisers are a tribe of glib, immoral, fast-talking hustlers. The leading insurance advisors are committed to the needs of the people and their businesses.

Your chosen agent must get to know you and your company well enough to fully understand your needs. Insurance is a sophisticated field, overlapping in many areas with law, taxation, investment, and banking. Effective estate planning strategies often use insurance coverage in the funding of buy and sell agreements, trust opportunities and transfer plans, tax funding, and gifting programs.

Talk to the experts. Don’t try to do it yourself. Its how the tool is used that matters most. Agents that have a C.L.U., CFP, and TEP will better your prospects of getting astute advice.

More than fixers

Talking to lawyers is not talking to God. Some are good and some are not. Find one that you can be honest with.

If you’re using your lawyer to bail you out when your truck hits the school bus, to limit your company’s liability, collect from deadbeats, act as a novelist for the board meeting or referee in family fights, you’re not utilizing their full expertise.

Your lawyer should be involved in your estate and succession plans and the future management transfer of your company. If yours doesn’t understand, find another one.

Group firms where each member has unique knowledge can be a great asset to you.

Not just tax shelterers

Is your accountant your personal gladiator with tax the department? Notwithstanding our high tax rates…should we spend our business efforts trying to avoid tax or earn money?

You should be long past the individual practitioner. What you really need is a 35-year-old, buttoned‑down CA who works for a first-class firm. Just because you earn three times what they do, doesn’t mean they don’t understand your business. They’re not supposed to. Their strong suit is applying accounting disciplines and tax expertise. A second‑rate, bookkeeper just won’t do.

Integrated not isolated

If you have sought advice from competent advisors, are they giving you isolated solutions that don’t jive with each other? One of the most common compliments we hear from our family business clients is that they are relieved to find a trusted advisor that looks at integrated not isolated solutions.

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