Failing to act on the plan

Delaying the succession plan leaves Kevin without the family business and his family.

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Succession planning failure failing to execute the plan

Bob purchased the funeral business from his dad’s estate at his dad's death. He figured the death business was a sure-fire industry to be in. Unfortunately, haggling over the company with his mom and siblings created a sore spot. But, under Bob’s leadership, the funeral business grew, and so did Bob’s family. Eventually, one of his children, Kevin, came into the business. Bob dreamt of passing the business on to Kevin, and they talked about what that might look like. But Bob procrastinated on getting a plan put together. He became distracted by his first marriage dissolving. Then, he created problems when he remarried another woman whom his family disapproved.

Still, the one active son, Kevin, continued to stay involved with the business, even with the distractions. In the immediate years following, cash flow was hampered for Bob as he was required to fund his ex-wife’s lifestyle while meeting the expectations of his new wife. Kevin’s salary stayed very level, with mild annual cost-of-living increases. Kevin’s wife was worried, but he constantly reminded her their finances would be all right. After all, he would take over the business from his dad eventually… because they verbally agreed that was the plan. That day never came, at least while Bob was alive.

Ironically, being in the business of helping families deal with the death of their loved ones did little to motivate Bob to take matters into his own hands sooner. When Bob eventually passed on, Kevin suddenly found himself negotiating with his stepmother for ownership of the business. Bob had never written a buy-sell plan or estate plan, which meant Kevin could not formally receive the company. His stepmother was unsure there was a plan to take care of her. The litigation went on for two years while Kevin continued to operate the business for the benefit of his estranged stepmother/boss. It ended with his stepmother auctioning the business assets off for her benefit.

Unfortunately, Kevin and his stepmother haven’t spoken since he left the company. To make matters worse, Kevin’s wife recently filed for separation. She felt like Kevin could have avoided much of this had he pressed a little harder on his dad before Bob died. All of this has taken an emotional toll on Kevin. He is now faced with finding a job for the first time in his late fifties and finding a new normal to his life.

With his net worth cut in half to support his ex-wife, and a minimal paying job to support his own life, Kevin looks back with much regret as he considers the discussions he and his dad had nearly 30 years ago about transitioning the business to him. He had many ideas and dreamt of growing the company and, in doing so, creating a successful life for his family. If only Bob would have acted… and Kevin would have pushed him to do so. Maybe all of this could have been avoided.

Don’t be like Kevin and miss your one shot...

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