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For a family business, the succession process should take time

When doing your succession planning for your family business, an important part of the estate planning process, it's critical to remember that things are not going to happen overnight. It takes time. It takes work.

Some have cited the old adage that "Rome wasn't built in a day." It's a apt saying. Building something great isn't something done all at once. While your company may not be as influential as Rome, the same principle applies. You have to do the work to help the company -- and your family -- get to where you want it to be.

That's why it's best to pick your successor early. Don't just name someone in your will for when you pass away. Pick that person years in advance. Talk to him or her about what the job entails. Find someone who is just as skilled and passionate as you are.

That may mean that all of your heirs are not equally qualified for the job. Remember that you don't have to leave the company equally to everyone. You have to consider not only what is best for your heirs, but also for the corporation itself.

Once you pick someone, begin working closely with him or her while you're still involved and running the company. Start by showing that person the ropes, then slowly begin turning over smaller jobs and responsibilities. View it all as a learning process. You're grooming the person to take over eventually, and doing so for years before the change of power happens puts that person in the best position to succeed.

As you work on this process, make sure you understand what legal steps need to be taken to pass your company on.

Source: Entrepreneur, "Family Succession Planning: How to Do It Right," accessed March 22, 2018

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