Kenneth Kaye

Ownership Succession Planning

We usually work in concert with our clients’ legal, financial, and management advisors. If necessary, we introduce them to leading authorities in specialized fields of estate planning, corporate governance, finance, or mental health.

Smith Corp. [not its real name] is a $17 million importing, wholesaling, and retail company. Smith was the second generation, but his inheritance of the business entailed bitter litigation, ending in estrangement from his mother and brother. Prior to calling us, he had tripled the size of his business in just four years with the help of a dedicated and talented son-in-law.

As his three daughters had never been involved in the firm, Mr. Smith’s choice of successor was easy. However, his son-in-law felt that the elder’s plans for funding his retirement clashed with the financial needs of the still-growing business.

Our first job was to help the two men and their wives discuss the issues constructively while healing some long-standing family hurt and misunderstanding. Once agreement was reached between the two couples, we facilitated a two-day retreat that included the other daughters so that all could air their questions and concerns about the parents’ plans for gifting stock and other assets during their lifetime and for the eventual disposition of an $8 million estate. Thus the owner and his wife saved their daughters from suffering the kind of senseless feud that the couple had been through a generation ago.

Many other examples are discussed in Ken’s 2005 book The Dynamics of Family Business.

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