Half of business people completing a recent Chamber survey into succession planning admitted that they really did not have a clue where to begin, despite over 85% having a will.

Interpreting the members poll Christine Thornley, a Partner in the firm’s Wills, Trusts and Probate team, highlighted it was quite common for business owners to ignore business assets in will-planning and urged companies to look for answers and fast.

“We are not overly surprised by this headline; more often than not many business owners confess to having no idea where to even begin their planning” said Christine.

“What could happen to a business should a shareholder and/or business owner pass away is just not widely considered in the long and even short term thought process.”

According to the poll a staggering 71% said that they had not discussed succession planning with other directors and less than one in five had ever added it to a board meeting agenda.

Christine again: “While directors might have individual plans, they only come to light in the event of someone’s death meaning there is little shared knowledge which leaves their companies in a very vulnerable position.”

Too time-consuming and fear of what might be involved, were too, cited as reasons for not tackling the crucial subject, whilst sixteen percent of respondents said that succession planning was just too complex a picture for them.

Christine again: “Interestingly emotional upheaval is often mentioned as a reason to avoid the subject, particularly in long-established family businesses where there are close personal ties. However fear and lack of knowledge drive emotion into the topic, when it’s really a question of looking at your business holistically, being pragmatic and forward-thinking.

“Poor succession planning usually just penalises those nearest and dearest so we are urging business owners to get it on the board room agenda and start discussions.”

Gorvins, specialists in this field, provide calm environments for exploratory conversations between boards of directors and help them navigate a way through.

Christian Mancier, Partner in the Firm’s Corporate-Commercial department, who jointly runs this area with Christine, says: “It is a difficult subject, but we say to companies not knowing where to start is an operational risk which needs addressing.”

For more information on planning and protecting the future of your business call us on 0161 930 5117 and ask for specialist solicitors Christine Thornley or Christian Mancier.

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